Abercrombie & Fitch is just being Abercrombie & Fitch

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The internet seems to be in an uproar of Abercrombie & Fitch’s newest insult, large people (specifically women) shouldn’t wear their clothes. At least the company is honest about their brand and expectations.

Communications expert, Tim Miles, author of Good Company: Making It, Keeping It, and Being It wrote in his blog, the Daily Blur that A&F is the anti-Dove, anti-inclusive. He goes on to explain why this is good business and advertising for the A&F brand.

“I think public protests outside their stores would make CEO Jeffries squeal with glee,” Miles wrote. “He welcomes this publicity as a siren song to his shallow end of the pool.”

Miles is 100 percent right.

A&F seems to have the spotlight every few years whether it’s with their hiring practices (or firing practices), the outlandish and teen-coveted, sexualized magazine or a $50 T-shirt with an explicit message (see the entire product criticism on the A&F wikipedia page).

The main point is that the general public and media are talking about A&F and all those conversations just make the cool kids want to buy the clothes and others to see what they’re missing.

Exclusion is nothing new for A&F and it isn’t hurting the business bottom line. It may not be ethical, kind or bettering the world in any way, but is selling clothes, albeit skimpy, overly expensive clothes.

Vote with consumer dollars, if you don’t like their business practices, you don’t have to shop there. Just be wary of forbidding your teenagers from shopping at A&F, it will probably lead to them buying the clothes and telling you they’re borrowing it from their bestie. (Not that I ever did that myself…)

Full disclosure: I interviewed for a job at A&F in college. I made the mistake of not wearing a full, current season A&F outfit to the interview (apparently an A&F t-shirt and A&F jeans weren’t enough, I was supposed to wear the jewelry, perfume and flip-flops too) and ultimately wasn’t hired.  

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It’s ok to be quiet in a tragedy

I’d like to clarify in more than 140 characters a Tweet I sent earlier today. The Tweet was: “Every business social account does not need to share “thoughts and prayers are with #Newtown.” If you can’t add to the conversation, don’t.”

The context came from both my Facebook newsfeed and my Twitter feed. In both, businesses and organizations were simply posting some variation of: “We’re deeply saddened by the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to all affected.”

It was overwhelming and distracting. Those kinds of statements don’t add to the conversation. Coffee places, non-profits, businesses and the like, didn’t need to say anything. At best it comes across as trite, at worst, like this Tweet from KMart, which Matt LaCasse posted to Facebook after seeing it elsewhere, comes across as very insensitive.

KMart tragedy Tweet

In a 24/7 news world, it is crucial for brands and business to follow news and revamp on the fly.

As digital marketer, Lauren Fernandez, (cubanalaf) points out, there are times when it is appropriate to say something. She replied to my tweet with, “We did so when canceling our contest today, and felt it was appropriate. I still do.”

Fernandez also adds, “It’s appropriate for brands to do so if product, company values or brand location ties into it.”

I agree with her on both points. Her first comment is the right way to acknowledge that plans changed and events and people take prescience over promotion.

Do you manage a social account for a brand or business and agree or disagree?

Content: Value and Information

Content is King

The opening session keynote speaker at the HUG Super Forum (I’m attending for work) made some really great points about making content work for you to gain clients or customers.

AK Stout, the owner at Saying it Social, emphasized that creating fresh, new content, not only helps your SEO, but also adds value to you or your organization.

She said, people aren’t using search engines to find a “plumber” like they would use the yellow pages, instead they are searching for, “how to fix a leaky faucet.” If your plumbing business can be on the first page of results for how to fix a leaky faucet, you’re more likely to gain that person as a customer when they can’t fix the leaky faucet themselves, or when they fix it using your information and another big plumbing issue comes up later.

The same is true for you. If you can be on the first page of results for whatever your niche or your company’s niche is, the more likely you are to gain that the person searching for that information for the project or in the future. You’ve provided valuable information without trying to overtly sell something.

Which was Stout’s second point, overtly selling turns people off. If instead you can provide value or desired information before pushing yourself or company, then you’ve gained their trust and you’re more like to gain a sale in the future. It’s a different mentality than in the past.

Think of that when you’re interviewing for a position. Instead of selling yourself, prove you can provide the value and have the necessary qualities for the position.

How do you provide valuable content and gain trust?

Applicants Beware!

I hope in sharing my story, some of you will avoid the same situation.

Like lots of recent graduates, by July 2005, I was freaking out and applying for any position that I was even remotely interested in. Unfortunately, using Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and a few others meant, I was also unwittingly applying for job scams.

Below is a word for word email I received from “Grey Marketing Team” (to my knowledge, they are no longer in existence).

Dear Aurora,
I have recently viewed your resume online and feel you may be qualified for our Advertising Department Assistant position. We are Grey Marketing Team, a national management and marketing firm. We assist companies in maximizing their marketing dollars by developing advertising, sales, and marketing campaigns.
We are currently seeking an Assistant to our Advertising Department to help our Creative Team develop print, internet, radio and television ads for our clients. An Advertising Department Assistant’s responsibilities would include the following:
Working with in house creative team
Assisting on sets and shoots
Acting as a liaison with production companies, photographers, etc
This position offers direct hands on experience working with clients. We offer the following:

Starting Salary of $41,600
Quarterly and annual bonuses
Top benefits package including medical, dental, 401k, tuition re-imbursement, paid vacation and holidays, and paid holidays
Rapid advancement opportunities

The person we are seeking must fit the following description of the five “B’s”
Be a self starter
Be motivated to succeed
Be willing to travel occasionally
Be a team player
Be willing to learn and educate himself or herself

If you feel this position is for you please apply online at: www.greymarketingteam.com

Go to the “employment” section

Select the “Advertising Department Assistant” position

Fill out the application.

Once you have filled out the application completely I will contact you for an interview.

Vonda Dixon
Director
Human Resources
Grey Marketing Team

Surprise, surprise, I applied and was granted an interview. When the HR Director I spoke with sounded really young and told me the dress was business professional, I got an uneasy feeling. But I brushed it aside. I arrived for my interview at a nondescript building in St. Louis. As I found the suite, I noticed a lot of people wearing backpacks and business suits, which I thought was odd. The suite looked like any other office suite, only everyone in the office was young, really young. I interviewed with three people who couldn’t have been older than 25.

They asked the standard interview questions and others that were really off the wall. Like super powers and wishes. The entire process lasted about an hour and a half. At no point did we discuss what I would actually be doing for the “company.” The interviewers talked about a second interview, which would be going out with one of their employees “in the field” for a day and that I would be hearing from them soon.

When I got home, I researched the company and realized it was more door-to-door sales and less actual advertising or marketing work. I decided I would not be going into “the field” with one of their employees for any amount of money. Apparently, soon meant less than 24 hours later. I got a call from the woman I interviewed with. I politely turned down the second interview and was barraged with “you’ll regret not taking this opportunity.”

The more I’ve talked to recent graduates in the last seven years, the more I’ve heard about these kinds of job scams. Positions likes these are preying on the eagerness of young graduates and unfortunately, seem to be becoming more and more popular.

You can avoid job scams by throughly researching the company you are applying to, which you should be doing for your cover letter anyway! This includes a standard Google search, verifying phone numbers, addresses and general details. You should also check out the scam websites and search the key words used in the ad. Also, misspelled words and bad grammar are dead give aways that something isn’t right.

Similar scams include: Steel Town Promotions

Have you encountered a job scam of your own?