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Words of Advice

Facebook Crashed and the World Kept Spinning

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You’re minding your own business when all of the sudden Facebook crashes. What do you do – Scream? Cry? Slam your fingers on random keys in frustration? Vent in 140 characters? Today, for the third time in three weeks, Facebook users temporarily experienced an outage. For most Facebookers, this was at most a mild irritation. Let’s be real, you probably should’ve been doing something better than creeping on your roommate’s cousin’s sister’s best friend.

With nowhere else to go, many took to Twitter to complain about the disruption and thus the hashtag #FacebookDown was born. The witty hashtag was accompanied by hilarious memes, blood moon theories and cries for interweb justice. In mere minutes, Viners had created videos, Instagrams were uploaded and thousands of angry tweets were curated based solely on the Facebook crash. News outlets even took to social media to comment on the crash.

However, for a much smaller group of people, the outage went beyond a simple buzz kill. I’m talking about anyone and everyone whose jobs are in social media, marketing, so on and so forth. I found Good Morning America’s post-crash status interesting – “Facebook was down again — cannot confirm if productivity soared at workplaces…” Although it was meant to be comedic, on the behalf of everyone in social media, I can personally tell you that workplace productivity was at an all-time low. Boosts wouldn’t go through, client data was unreachable and time-sensitive posts became even more urgent. A black hole opened up in the middle of our office and sucked all of our souls through the floor. Was that a little bit dramatic? Maybe, but that’s how it felt for the whole 7 minutes and 43 seconds that Facebook wasn’t working.

With all that being said, I have a request for all of the recreational Facebookers out there. Next time Facebook has a fluke, take a second to think about the people on the other side. If your favorite brand doesn’t immediately answer the request about your broken earbuds, be patient and give them some slack. Trust me, we’re just as frustrated as you are! And after all, there’s a human on the other end of that funny Facebook post you just tagged your friend in.

Win Big with Social Media Contests

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The internet is a beautiful thing, it really is. I mean, did you know that radio stations aren’t the only way that you can win cool contests anymore?! Okay, you probably knew that. If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen your friends commenting on, reposting or retweeting, desperately trying to win some kind of contest. Those kind of posts used to drive me INSANE. I always thought, “What’s the point of that?! There’s NO way you’re going to win, a million people are trying to enter!” As soon as I started working for a social media agency, I changed my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I have the worst luck in the world and I STILL haven’t won anything (coughChooseChicagocough), but I decided to let my free flag fly and enter contests out the wazoo. Is it because my friends and coworkers seem to win all of the social media contests ever and I’m jealous? Maybe it is.

I think a lot of companies truly overlook what kind of positive impact running a contest can have for their business. People LOVE free stuff. No one actually knows that they want a Segway tour of Chicago until there’s one at the tip of your fingers, for free! Coffee from iHOP for a year? Didn’t know I wanted it until I could potentially have it, for free! Whether you’re trying to get your audience excited about an upcoming event or just spread general awareness of your product and/or services, contests are the perfect way to do it. Not only do they keep your current fan base engaged but they give you the potential to expand your reach and ultimately grow your fan base. Check out two of my favorite companies who run killer contests in the Chicagoland area (and beyond!):

Choose Chicago: Choose Chicago works hard to show people visiting Chicago the economic benefit of the city and the community. Not only do they help you plan your trip and get around town, but they provide you with maps of the city and show you special deals and events going on around the time of your visit. If you’re wondering, no, I’m not incredibly jealous of the night my friend spent “Sippin’ in the City” courtesy of Choose Chicago, City Winery and Seadog Navy Pier. Keep an eye on their Twitter and Facebook pages for some awesome contests featuring some of the hottest companies in Chicago.

choose

Oberweis/That Burger Joint: Raise your hand if you don’t like ice cream or juicy burgers stacked with cheese, bacon and every other tasty thing you can imagine. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Oberweis and That Burger Joint (TBJ) are both brain children of the Oberweis family and although Oberweis has standalone stores, TBJ only exists in cohabitation with Oberweis stores. Oberweis frequently runs ice cream, milk and other delicious dairy giveaways on their Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram. Most of the time all you have to do is comment with your favorite flavor of ice cream or milk, it’s genius. The same goes for TBJ, sometimes winning a free burger is as easy as clicking retweet.

TBJ contest

If you’re feeling lucky, I suggest checking out the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of your favorite companies to see if they’re running any cool contests. Who knows, maybe your good fortune is better than mine!

Top App Picks | PrettyQuick • Reserve • Waze

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You know the age-old saying, “take time to stop and smell the roses”? More often than not, I forget to do just that. I’m always rushing here or there, always trying to cross off something on my (what seems like never-ending) mental to-do list. I’m extremely type A, •basically everything on this list describes me• I like to get in and get things done which is why these three apps rank super high in my book. They save me time and actual money and time IS money so it’s like…just download them already.

  1. PrettyQuick. Oh PrettyQuick, I love you. I never was one to regularly book my manicures. I’d say I only got them a few times a year. I love giving myself manicures but that changed after I downloaded PrettyQuick, now I’m getting manicures several times per month. Best features of the app:
    • Book Beauty – Nails, Hair, Massage, Waxing – straight through the app. They will make the appointment for you and send you email and text reminders so you don’t forget.
    • No need to pay or even tip when you’re done – it’s all handled by PrettyQuick. You put your card number in when you sign up and never need to worry about it again.
    • If you book at least once a month, you automatically get 20% off your services on all  Sunday-Wednesday appointments. My $35 no-chip manicures are now only $28.
    • After 8 completed appointments, you get a $15 credit.
    • Use my promo code to get $15 in credit for your first appointment! Code: LIZZIE
    • Download PRETTYQUICK (App Store)
      Manicure

      My latest no-chip manicure.

  2. Waze. Pronounced *WAYS* not *WAH-ZAY* like I used to call it ;). EVERY driver needs this app. My favorite features:
    • It gets you where you need to be using the fastest route possible. Because it collects its users’ data in real-time, it senses traffic patterns and avoids them at all costs.
    • Users can pin hazards like accidents, road blocks, etc. so if you are in a jam, you can scroll up the expressway or street to see what is causing all the ruckus.
    • It alerts you while driving saying things like “Police reported ahead” or “Pothole reported ahead” or “Slow down, red light camera reported ahead.”
    • You can share your ETA with other users as well as see where your friends are at in their journey. This is helpful if I’m waiting for someone to pick me up or vice versa.
    • You can program in certain addresses you visit often for quick navigation. I have “Home” and “Work” saved and in the morning when I pull it up, it prompts me as soon as I open the app, “Are you going to work?” and all I have to do is click one button. It also draws from information in your Google calendar so if you have a meeting, it will pull up the address and say, are you going to “ADDRESS”?
    • You can choose celebrity voices to direct you. They had Arnold Schwarzenegger on there for awhile and I was really sad when he went away. He used to say “You’ve arrived at your destination. Hasta la vista, baby.” I miss him. Apparently, Stephen Colbert, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Neil Patrick Harris are coming to the app soon.
    • DOWNLOAD WAZE (App Store)Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 3.46.01 PM
  3. Reserve. An app that makes VIP reservations for you. I used this for the first time a few weeks ago at Dusek’s before a show at Thalia Hall. Having never been there before and never having used the app before, I had no expectations. Because I made my reservation through Reserve, my experience couldn’t have been better. There was a long line of people waiting for tables, we walked up and sat right down. Here’s what else I liked:
    • There are actually good restaurants on here! Places like The Dawson, The Boarding House, Lula Cafe, bellyQ, to name a few.
    • You aren’t limited to only a few reservation slots like Open Table. When you request the date and time you’d like to dine, Reserve contacts the restaurant for you and texts/emails you shortly thereafter to confirm.
    • You get treated like an ultimate VIP by the front-of-the-house staff and receive added perks for dining. For us, we got a complimentary round of drinks soon after we sat down.
    • You don’t have to wait for the server to bring you a check when you’re done. Reserve takes care of making sure your bill is paid along with a 20% tip. This was especially awesome for us since we were at Dusek’s and wanted to go straight up to the show as soon as we were done eating.
    • You can split the bill easily with friends. No more I’ll “Quickpay” or “Venmo” you, it’s done right then and there which is especially great for large groups.
    • With this promo code: XKLRRU, you get $20 of your first dining experience. And when you refer a friend who completes a reservation, you get a $20 credit and they get $20 off their first dining experience.
    • DOWNLOAD RESERVE (App Store)
      Duseks

      Our table at Dusek’s

 

SoulCycling into Social Media

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Everyone appreciates good customer service (take notes, Comcast), but what about companies that go above and beyond? I’m talking outstanding customer service before you’re even a customer, customer service. I could only be referring to the wonderful company that cycled its way straight into my heart, SoulCycle.

SoulCycle is a religion, cult, out-of-body experience part dance party, part workout, part therapy and part communal high. It consists of 45 minutes of indoor cycling mixed with full-body workouts and choreography to work your core. There are currently around 46 studios across the country with more to come. Much of the strength of SoulCycle’s brand comes from the personality and magnetism of the instructors and before I even stepped foot into the studio, I found this to be true.

I originally heard about SoulCycle from Stuart (one of my BFFs), who couldn’t stop raving about it after just a few classes. He asked me to go with him and after some passive aggressive attempts, I agreed. I tried a spin class once in college at the local Y, so let’s just say I was less than excited for my ride with SoulCycle (no, I didn’t fall off the bike). I’m not the kind of person who normally buys into the whole positivity mantra stuff so obviously I had my eye roll perfected and ready to go.

I wanted to check out the SC Facebook and Twitter accounts before I booked anything and as soon as I did, I was sold. When the first thing you see is that an instructor’s holding a Lady Gaga or Beyoncé themed ride, it’s kind of hard not to be. SoulCycle’s Twitter account is incredibly informative in a way that gets your attention, making sure to announce which instructor will be doing what ride and including the instructor’s personal handles in each tweet. They’re also constantly interacting with SC fans and customers, answering questions and offering words of encouragement.  The SC Facebook isn’t lacking in this aspect either, they fit all the standard info into a post plus everything else that doesn’t fit into 140 characters. Endless photos of happy SC riders, interactions with instructors, workout inspiration and videos that link to their YouTube channel… You want it? They’ve got it. There are over 91,000 SoulCycle hashtags on Instagram alone.

SAF

It’s 2015 which means that obviously I had to document that I might be riding with SoulCycle, so I took to Twitter and let my fingers fly. Next thing I knew, my friend was retweeting me and @mentioning our soon-to-be instructor, Devin. If I hadn’t been convinced that I wanted to ride already, Devin was the deciding factor. When I expressed my concerns/excitement, Devin immediately replied to me with a few words of encouragement and a *favorite*. Did I mention that I hadn’t even met him at this point?! I wanted to book another ride before I even had my first, there’s nothing better than someone cheering you on before you even take to a task.

Not only is something like this a great move on Devin’s part as an instructor (and human being), but on SoulCycle’s part as a whole. Their employees are incredibly tapped into everything social media, so much so that there’s even a section on their website dedicated to the SC community – featuring blogs about members and instructors, health, music and even fashion. This makes it easy for current and future SoulCyclers to become, and stay, involved in the SC culture. Take a look at any of their social media platforms and you’ll see that SoulCycle is hitting the social media nail right on the head and it sure doesn’t hurt to have employees who absolutely live, breathe and love what they do. Cycle on, SoulCycle – I’ll be seeing you again soon.

Will Blog for $$

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I have to admit, before I started working for Gossip Genie, I wasn’t big on blogs. When I say that, I mean that the LiveJournal era is the last time I even attempted to “blog” anything. Don’t get me wrong, I always dreamed of starting my own blog that would eventually take off and obviously make me “famous,” but I was always too lazy to put my thoughts down on cyber paper. It wasn’t until I became professionally immersed in the social media realm that I realized how much of an impact bloggers can have on a product/company. From food to style to travel to architecture, if you can name it, there’s probably a blog dedicated to it.

Most bloggers probably started out blogging because they want to share their knowledge on a subject that they’re passionate about. Isn’t being paid to do what you love everyone’s dream? If you can put your passion into words/photos/creative content and gain an engaged and loyal audience (bigger isn’t always better), companies will see your blog as the perfect platform to promote their product or service. Cue sponsored blog posts. This means that you’re paid to publish a post on your blog, which can either be written by you or by the advertisers. If you’re a super great blogger (which you probably are), the company will give you free reign over what you write – within reason. You can usually tell which posts are sponsored if they include, “This blog post was sponsored by (Name Brand Here).” or hashtags such as #ad or #sponsored. Since bloggers usually have large followings on their other social media platforms, they’ll also share creative photos or posts displaying the product in a cool way. I personally don’t follow many blogs, however, I do follow tons of bloggers on Instagram and Twitter. This is a great way for businesses to extend their reach without constantly shoving heavily branded content down our throats.

Check out two of my favorite Chicago bloggers below and see how they’re doing sponsored posts the right way:

Chicago Food Girl: The word food in this blogger’s name should tell you everything you need to know. Mina Im, the creator of this foodie mastermind, has beautifully crafted one of Chicago’s top food blogs. From cocktails, to taco joints to Noodles & Co., her blog hits all the hot spots around town and she often collaborates with local restaurants to host giveaways. Her sponsored posts are engaging and subtle. I mean honestly, who can say no to an awesome picture of food?!

ChiCityFashion: The perfect mix between fab fashion shots taken in our own beautiful city and well, pretty much all things fashion, Jena Gambaccini has knocked this one out of the park. Scrolling through the home page of this blog, you’ll find tons of enticing content that will leave you clicking through to each post without hesitation. She even provides the direct link to the clothes she models so you don’t have to go searching around the internet and end up with some knockoff that looks like a paper bag.

If blogging is something that’s always been in the back of your mind, it’s not too late to jump on the blogwagon. I’m not promising that you’ll become rich or famous, but sometimes just sharing your passion with others is reward enough. Happy blogging!

16 Ways to Get More Out of Spotify

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Spotify Blog Header

In today’s digital market, streaming services have entered a full-blown rat race for your attention. From original heavy hitters like Spotify and Pandora to up and coming contenders such as Tidal and Apple Music, consumers now have more options than ever to satisfy their listening needs.

However, unless one of these new outlets decides to buy me dinner, my commitment stands with Spotify. As a service, it continues to modify and improve the listening experience of its users — an essential move in order to remain on top.

I noticed, though, that many of my friends and family members don’t stay up-to-date on the new features that it regularly releases and because of this, are not utilizing the service to its potential.

So, I decided to create this blog post to help better your Spotify experience (after all, you want to get the most out of that $10 a month, don’t you?)

Music Discovery

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge music junkie and avid concert-goer. I am constantly on the hunt for new music and nearly all of the great songs and artists I find are thanks to Spotify.

  1. Loaded Playlists: Open up your ‘Browse’ tab, and dive into a virtually bottomless pool of new content. In one place, you will find playlists dedicated to today’s top charts, specific genres, and all moods and vibes.

 

  1. Discover Weekly Playlist: Last week, Spotify announced that it would begin creating personalized playlists for all of its users. Now every Monday morning, you can find a brand new mixtape waiting for you, based on the artists and genres you listened to the week before. So as your taste in music evolves, so will your weekly playlist — pretty cool, right?

Spotify Blog Discover Weekly

  1. Brand Playlists: Did you know that loads of brands are on Spotify, too? The next time you’re digging your favorite store’s playlist, search them in the app to see if it’s posted! To do this, navigate to your search bar, type in the brand, then scroll down to the ‘Profiles’ subtitle to see if it’s there.

Spotify Blog Brands

  1. Discover Tab: In addition to the Discover Weekly playlist, Spotify compiles a list of artists and albums you might like as well. For example, I listened to Bombay Bicycle Club last week so it suggested I give Los Compensinos! and Noah and The Whale a listen too because they produce similar music. To find these lists, head to your ‘Browse’ tab, then click ‘Discover.’ Wait, feeling the artist you’re listening to right now? Find others just like them by simply hitting the ‘Related Artists’ tab on their profile.

 

  1. Check Your Notifications: Although this one is not hidden, many users simply have no interest in perusing the updates Spotify sends to them. If you don’t, start! Spotify stays on top of new album releases and single drops so you don’t have to. Simply make sure that you’re following all of your favorite artists, and Spotify will let you know when they’ve added new content to stream.

 

Artist News

Spotify loves keeping you in the loop on the whereabouts of your favorite artists. Whether they’re in town or releasing a new album, it’ll make sure you have access to all of this information.

  1. Upcoming Show Announcements & Offers: If you follow an artist, you will be able to see their upcoming shows on their profile. Moreover, you can even buy merchandise using Spotify as well. When I navigate to Twenty One Pilots’ profile, for instance, I can see that they have a Lollapalooza after show coming up this weekend.
  2. Spotify Blog MerchArtist Playlists: Artists often have public playlists available to their followers on their profiles. This keeps you connected to what they’re listening to while hopefully discovering a few jams to add to your collection as well.

 

  1. Lyrics: This is a super neat addition to Spotify’s desktop features. Now, you can sing along with your favorite tunes as if you were watching a lyric video on YouTube.

Spotify Blog LyricsSocial Networking

I love the social networking features Spotify has to offer. I can now listen to music with friends in ways that were never before possible.

 

  1. Sending Music: Probably the most obvious way to share music with friends is through Spotify Messages. Through Messages, you can send other listeners songs, albums, artists, and playlists. It’s an awesome way to share and collect music with those who understand your taste best: your friends.

Spotify Blog Messages

 

  1. Collaborative Playlists: Spotify also allows more than one user to contribute songs to a playlist, which makes crafting the perfect combination of tunes turn into a group effort. I’ve seen people use this feature when putting together a playlist for birthday parties and barbecues.

 

  1. Friends Top Tracks: Relying on the friends feed is no longer the only way to discover what your friends are listening to. If you go to your ‘Browse’ tab followed by ‘Charts,’ you’ll find a playlist entitled Friends Top Tracks. This is a collection of songs your friends have been listening to so you can check them out yourself. It even specifies which friends are playing each song.

 

Functions & Utilities

Spotify is constantly working on ways to improve the overall navigation, usability, and convenience of its service. These additions to its app really do enhance the user experience, which solidifies its position as a top streaming source.

  1. Private Session: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suggested friends use Spotify only to hear, “But I don’t want everyone to know what I’m listening to.” Not a problem — Spotify gives you complete control over this. For a temporary fix, turn off updates by clicking ‘Private Session’ in the drop down menu next to your name in the top right corner. To make this change permanent, navigate into your preferences, and turn off both Facebook and Spotify feed updates. With these features, your love of ABBA and the Grease soundtrack can remain a secret.

 

  1. Queue: I only recently discovered that Spotify allows you to add songs to your play queue without altering your playlist. If you would like to listen to a song next without having to save it to your list, just right click on the track and select the appropriate option.

Spotify Blog Play Queue

 

  1. Local Files: So, how do we survive now that Taylor Swift pulled all of her music from Spotify?! It’s simple: add local files to your library. You can upload your music from iTunes into the app in your preferences. With this feature, ‘Blank Space’ can be a part of all the playlists you like!

 

  1. Download Music: I truly believe that splurging for the Premium experience is well worth the money you pay each month. Included in the $10 you spend is the ability to download songs onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer. This saves your data while also allowing you to listen to music in areas where Wi-Fi and/or 4G signal is weak.

 

  1. Smartphone Controller: I love this feature! Using my Android, I can quickly change what I’m listening to on my computer, no matter what room of the house I’m in. This way I don’t have to sacrifice volume for convenience.

When to Unfriend Someone on Facebook

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Recently, I unfriended several people on Facebook and it got me thinking, do other people do this? Am I being too brash?

You’d be surprised how much you enjoy your newsfeed without having to scroll through photos from people you hardly know (or don’t know at all), your estranged family member’s rants, people sharing the latest cat video or BuzzFeed article that you care nothing about.

I like to go on the network and be able to appreciate all the wonderfulness that Facebook offers to its users. Yes, I do want to see when my cousin looks like a boss at a party or when my mom is with my dad watching the sunset on the beach. Every day we’re inundated with a constant flow of digital information, it can become overwhelming if you don’t maintain it.

Here are a few of the reasons to ‘unfriend’ someone on Facebook:

1. They’re a high school (even worse, middle school) acquaintance you don’t plan on ever seeing again in your life.

2. The only reason they’re friends with you on Facebook is to stalk your life (and vice versa).

3. You don’t know them. At all.

4. They’re friends with an ex. (This is a tricky one, albeit necessary if you don’t want to see photos and news about your ex pop up all over the place)

5. You ARE an ex. The first thing I did when breaking up with the last guy is get rid of all social reminders of our relationship. Moving on is important, why keep digital evidence online to remind you of something that didn’t work out or for you and all of your friends to see?

6. This person writes your paycheck. There’s no reason to be friends with your boss on Facebook – save that for LinkedIn. Unless your boss is Jacqui Liberman, of course 😉

7. They invite you to 1,000,000 events per week.

8. You play this little game I like to play and lose.

Facebook friend game

A former Genie once taught me a great way to slim down your friend list on a regular basis. Each day, see whose birthday it is and ask yourself if you want to remain connected on Facebook. If any of the above apply, think about unchecking that ‘Friends’ box.

Indecisive Nation Unite! Yelp Helps Save the Day.

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When it comes to making decisions, I’m the absolute worst. I mean, on any given day it can take me 2 hours to decide what TV show I want to watch. So it’s no surprise that last Friday night my boyfriend and I found ourselves aimlessly wandering the streets of Lakeview looking for somewhere to eat. Being the picky eaters that we are, finding somewhere that we can agree on is an especially painful process. This is exactly why I love Yelp so much.

Yelp is a crowd-sourced local business review and social networking site. The site has pages devoted to individual locations, such as restaurants or salons, where users can submit a review on their products or services using a one to five star rating system. In addition to writing reviews, users can react to reviews, plan events or discuss their personal lives. As of 2015, Yelp.com has 142 million monthly visitors and 77 million reviews.*

If you didn’t catch that, Yelp is perfect for anyone who has a hard time committing to well, pretty much anything. Don’t know which nail salon has better service? Yelp it. Want to find the best pizza in town? Yelp it. Trying to find a new doctor? Yelp it. Yelp’s slogan, “Real People. Real Reviews.” basically tells you all that you need to know. With that slogan in mind, I think it’s important to remember that because these are humans, like you and I, sharing their reviews – their opinions are just that, opinions. People aren’t always going to like the same things or experience the same kind of service. However, if a business is plagued with 1 star reviews, in my opinion, it’s best to assume that they’re pretty accurate.

Glaz
Glaze Teriyaki – Photo courtesy of @cnsherman

Aside from viewing other Yelp user’s reviews, Yelp gives business owners a chance to respond to reviews, either publicly or privately. I currently oversee a Yelp account for one of my clients and find that a company’s responses, to both good and bad reviews, can help shape the way other Yelp users view your business. If a person gives you a good review, thanking them is more likely to keep them coming back for more of whatever you’ve got. If they give a bad review, it’s important to acknowledge their concerns publicly to let them, and others, know that the issue isn’t being brushed under the table.

For the basic Yelp user, it showcases features such as connecting with your friends (or others whose reviews you find useful), sharing photos, marking others reviews as “funny, cool or useful,” responding to other users reviews, making reservations, checking in at a location, ordering and having food delivered, scheduling appointments, ordering flowers, you get the gist. On top of all of that, you’re also able to connect to Facebook and Twitter so you can share your reviews there as well. Did I mention that Yelp has an app for iOS and Android too?

You’re probably wondering what food I ended up using Yelp to find on Friday night. We had our heart (halfway) set on a little Mediterranean spot on Broadway but I ended up running into an old coworker who had just come from Glaze Teriyaki Grill. She recommended we try it out but I was still persistent about the other place, thanks to their 4.5 star Yelp review. After Yelping Glaze, I instantly changed my mind, we decided on Glaze and I couldn’t be happier that we did (thanks, Carina!). Cute interior, great food and the most amazing staff to boot! It’s safe to say that we’ve found our new regular spot. Which reminds me, I still have to go give them the 5 stars they so fabulously deserve.

Next time you’re in a bind about which business is better, from bars, to drive-thrus, to law offices (yes, you can review those too!), just follow the stars, they’ll (hardly) lead you astray. Don’t forget to help your fellow indecisive Yelpers out either, leave those reviews like it’s your job.

*Info taken straight from the source – Yelp.com.

Four Tips: How to be More Creative

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I saw Blue Man Group at the theater recently. I didn’t know what to expect because I had little prior knowledge, but it was one of the most creative things I’ve ever experienced. It’s hard to put it into words but if you haven’t seen the show, it’s led by three bald, ‘Blue Men’ and is an eclectic mix of art, music, drumming, comedy and technology. There’s a lot of audience interaction, too (which always gives me minor anxiety but thankfully they didn’t pick me out of the audience).

I left inspired that its creators were imaginative enough to dream up and develop such a unique concept. It reminded me of the importance of creativity which, of course, plays a key role in our social media and PR work at Gossip Genie.

Sometimes we use creativity subconsciously but it’s required for many of our daily tasks, including thinking of contest ideas, creating eye-catching branded graphics, wording an attention-grabbing call-to-action social media post, framing a beautiful photograph for Instagram and responding to Facebook comments in a quick yet savvy way. Or with our PR for clients, there might not be a genuinely newsworthy story so creativity is required to identify or create one.

Of course, fast-paced working lives can sometimes stifle creativity. Countless emails, admin tasks, deadlines, reports and pitches can make unleashing your creativity a challenge at times, whatever industry you’re in. Here are four tips to get your creative juices flowing:

1) Stand up. Sitting at a desk all day is one of the worst things you can do if you want to be creative. A Stanford study in 2014 found that creative thinking significantly improves while a person is walking and shortly thereafter. Other studies have shown that just standing can boost creativity too. It’s perhaps one of the reasons that great ideas often come to us in the shower or why standing desks – and even fitness treadmill desks (no thanks) – have become a trend in the workplace.

2) Drink water. Dehydration can prevent creativity. The coffee snob in me is not going to discourage you from drinking caffeine, but be sure to drink enough water throughout the day too, otherwise you’ll suffer from sluggishness and creativity levels will plummet.

3) Be inspired. Broaden your mind and other perspectives by soaking up as many creative, artistic experiences as possible. Whether it’s watching shows like Blue Man Group, viewing independent movies, visiting galleries, photography exhibitions and museums, or traveling to a different culture; there’s a world of creativity out there just waiting to stimulate your senses and influence your own creativity.

4) Be child-like. Children are the most creative people in the world. I think back to the imaginary games my sisters and I would play and I’m in awe of what we’d be capable of dreaming up. As we grow older and take on the ‘adult’ role, many of us lose the ability to let our imaginations run wild. In the PR and social media world, I have regularly had to brainstorm ideas for pitches and clients – at first it was daunting, I was afraid my ideas might be laughed at – but I soon learned that there was no such thing as a bad idea. The only thing bad was not coming up with an idea.

 

 

 

The Bridesmaid Bylaws

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Helpful Information, Uncategorized, Words of Advice | One Comment

This coming weekend will mark the 5th wedding that I’ve been lucky enough to take part in, 6th if you count my brief stint as a flower girl when I was 4. Throughout the course of these weddings, I’ve learned a few things about what it takes to be a bridesmaid. You might be thinking, “What is she talking about? All you have to do is put on a dress and walk down the aisle.” If this is your thought process, I’m going to take this moment to let you know that you are sorely mistaken.

Planning a wedding can be an incredibly stressful event for a bride (and groom!), so as a friend and bridesmaid, it is your duty to love, and more importantly, support your friend throughout this time. Check out my top 5 tips on how to be an above average bridesmaid.

  1. This is not, I repeat NOT, your wedding.
  • This one’s a shocker, I know, but try to keep in mind that this isn’t about you. Your time will come – but for now, your opinions, tastes and interests don’t matter. Put yourself in the bride’s shoes and imagine how you’d want your bridesmaids to treat you. She surely won’t be an angel throughout the entire process but it’s your job to grin and bear it.
  1. Ask how you can help.
  • Don’t wait until a week before the big day to extend a helping hand. From the color scheme, to invitations, to the bridal shower, to seating arrangements – the bride is guaranteed to need your help with something. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help lighten her load, I promise that she’ll appreciate it.
  1. You’ll (probably) only wear the dress once.
  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. A-line isn’t your style? Chartreuse isn’t your favorite color? You’d never wear ruffles if your life depended on it? Too bad! It’s time to be a good friend, suck it up and wear whatever the bride-to-be wants you to wear.*
  1. 99 problems & the bride ain’t one
  • Your friend has asked you to partake in one of the most special events in her life, treat this as an honor. Whether you’re having trouble planning the bachelorette party, can’t seem to find somewhere to get your dress hemmed or the other bridesmaids are being difficult, don’t let these predicaments fall onto the bride’s plate. She already has enough going on without hearing about how Becky and Susie don’t agree on the center pieces for the bridal shower. Work it out by yourself, or among the bridesmaids, and move on.
  1. Make memories & take photos
  • Engagement party, bridal shower(s), bachelorette party, ceremony, wedding reception – my head is spinning and I’m only a bridesmaid! With so many things going on, the bride can get wrapped up in the moment and completely forget to take photos of her own. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Instagram photographer or a professional one, whip out that smart phone and get to snapping! When she realizes that she didn’t get any photos, you’ll be her saving grace.
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