3 tips for building strong post-pandemic partnerships in the workplace

When everyone is in the office, there’s a buzz of ongoing communication and problem-solving that happens organically…popping your head in an office to ask questions, bumping into a colleague in the hallway, or hashing things out over a lunch conversation. Most of us have been physically away from the office over the past year and have developed new ways to communicate with our colleagues and clients. And while there may have been an overload of video conference calls with our most talkative co-workers on mute; we’ve all upped our “technology” game and are successfully getting our jobs done.

When the pandemic is over, or at least “over-ish,” some of us will return to the office full time, while many will remain remote. How do we switch gears to foster relationships and find the communication approaches that work for in-person and remote teams simultaneously?

1. Make the Connection

The most important step is to take the time and get to know your team again. The pandemic has made an impact on all of us and has forced many to reevaluate their priorities. Take the time to understand what’s important to your team members – in the workplace and their personal lives. Showing a genuine interest will naturally form connections, enabling you to uncover what you have in common and how you are different.

Tip: Don’t always be “all business” – remember to be human and socialize. The stronger you connect with each member of your team, the easier it will be to foster strong partnerships!

2. Be on time, be prepared, be present, and participate

These are best practices for all meetings, whether remote or in-person. If you are facilitating the meeting, make sure you have a clear agenda that can be accomplished during the scheduled time. Don’t make people afraid to attend your meetings because you always run late. If you are attending the meeting understand that you are accountable to be actively engaged, to listen and to participate.

Tip: End each meeting by confirming key decisions and next steps. This ensures that both you and your team walk away from the meeting with the same expectations and allows anyone who is unclear the opportunity to ask questions. 

3. Discover what makes your team the most productive

Discover what types of communication work best for your team. Stop sending the same email that no one responds to or scheduling the weekly team meeting without an agenda. Pick up the phone and have a conversation, reach out for relevant topics the team wants to address, or schedule morning coffee with a colleague to catch up. Bottom line: if team communication becomes stagnant, change it up. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the sweet spot to jump-start conversations and engagement.

Tip: This will likely be different for each of your team members and clients, so being flexible is an important part of being an impactful and productive leader. 

​Following best practices for team communication – remotely and in-person, helps build strong connections and fosters collaboration. Always use your team’s time wisely and be respectful of everyone’s work and life boundaries. By making yourself accessible and open to communicating in a way that works best for them, you’ll continue to hold your team’s respect – as an expert and as someone who’s genuinely concerned about their well-being.

 

Mary Poluikis
Group Program Director

getting to know Alex Miller: take two

A familiar face. A familiar smile. From summer intern to full-time employee, MK3 is welcoming back our very own Alex Miller. In her second take, Alex seamlessly transitioned into the role of Associate Producer and Operations Manager here at MK3. And that means assisting and supporting our creative teams and owner Joel Kaplan – all of which plays a crucial role in MK3’s success.

Alex was quickly welcomed back because it seemed like she never left. And now that she’s experiencing even more of the company, she’s finding it to be a place that thrives on team chemistry, open communication and lots of good humor.

“Everyone knows each other so well and works together so seamlessly that you always know you have the full team behind you on every project.”

Alex Miller, Associate Producer and Operations Manager

When the offer to join MK3 full-time presented itself, it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down. MK3’s creative capabilities and attention to detail was an attractive mix for her, and she knew she wanted to contribute to the team. Alex found her transition from student/intern to full-time MK3 employee a smooth one, not only because she’d already interned here, but she felt well prepared after four years at Emerson College.

Now her focus is to take that preparation and apply that excellence while paving her own path. Part of her duties when she was an intern was to help tell the MK3 story, through our social media marketing. It’s “take two” here at MK3 for Alex, and she’s ready to help us tell yours!

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

doing more with less: the benefits of a mid-size team

People like to say “there’s strength in numbers,” but in the fast-moving world of digital marketing, sometimes “less is more.” Here at MK3, we provide clients with in-house creative solutions, and we do it all with a tight-knit team!

nimble numbers

The formula is simple: fewer people leads to higher efficiency. Despite our smaller team size, MK3 continues to stand out and stand up against our much larger competitors. Within our mid-sized team, everyone is aware not only of their own responsibilities, but  of those around them as well – which makes for ease of collaboration and project sharing. By having a smaller, more nimble group, we’re capable of turning small projects around quickly, and turning large projects into team efforts.

jack of all trades

With a mid-sized team also comes flexibility. Every member of our team plays a crucial role not only in our success, but in our clients’ success. To ensure we’re meeting deadlines and communicating with our clients effectively, we all have the ability to wear more than one “hat” at once.  For a mid-size team, our most important skill might be adaptability – the ability to adapt, pivot, and move quickly from one project, and one skill set, to the next. At MK3, when it comes to “hats” – one size fits all.

the three c’s

Collaboration, communication, and culture. They’re vital to any team, but at MK3 they’re the keys to our success. Our “open team” culture encourages a free flow of information and ideas – creative directors brainstorm with producers, and interns often work directly with our owner.  By cutting out the dreaded “middle man,” we’re able to be direct and transparent with our clients as well. This helps build strong relationships, allowing our clients to not only trust us with their projects, but with their vision as well.

“MK3 offers an open line of communication between the client and the creatives, so there’s nothing lost in translation.”  Joel Kaplan, Principal/Founder

MK3 can tackle any project by working together and being flexible. At MK3 we’ve created a fun and fast-paced work environment where each member is essential and appreciated, and every voice has the ability and authority to make an impact…on our business and yours.

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

how to: video shoot “speed bumps”

Here at MK3, we offer in-house creative and full production capabilities. You could say we’re a “hybrid” and it’s what helps to set us apart from other agencies. We work hard to deliver high quality creative and production for our clients, and in the process…things don’t always go as planned. Take video shoots for example.  We take all the necessary steps to ensure an easy breezy video shoot, but we’ve also learned to think on our feet and adapt when things go a little sideways. Here are a few things we’ve learned when faced with production day “speed-bumps.”

when you’re a bundle of nerves…

We often shoot on-camera interviews with SMEs (subject matter experts), so we know how hard it is to deliver information on-camera.  We also know that sometimes the nerves kick in. Our goal is to make the “talent” feel as comfortable as possible, so our directors take a few minutes to build a relationship with the interviewee before we start recording. We try to loosen them up by asking them about their hobbies, last night’s game or tomorrow’s weather – anything but the topic at hand.  If we get a natural conversation going, the “natural” part often rolls right into the interview itself.  Another trick: ask the first 3 interview questions again at the end, because by this time your “talent” will have loosened up enough to give better answers than the first 3 tries.

when you’re just not finding your light…

When it comes to video, it’s all about the light. No one wants to look shiny or washed out…or feel like they’re sitting in the dark. For in-person shoots, we always conduct a site survey in advance to plan all our shots, but with remote virtual shoots that’s not possible. So before every remote interview, we conduct a “tech check” to ensure the lighting looks good, the interviewee’s face is lit and there are no distracting shadows. We also check that their background is appropriate and looks put-together, but not staged. We may ask our on-camera subject to move around the room to find the best lighting and background for the video. When there are limited lighting options, having your “talent” sit in the soft light of a sunny window is a simple solution!

when you’re all shook up…

With so many user-generated videos being shot on smartphones or tablets, footage can end up looking unsteady or “shaky.” When it comes to stabilizing the video, skip the “selfie” approach and try placing your camera on any available flat surface.  People are learning to be more resourceful, and are making “tripods” out of almost anything!  Try resting your phone/camera against your laptop screen or a stack of books.  No matter where you lean or prop up the camera (and especially if you have to hold it), you should always line up the camera lens to your eye height.  This way, you’re not looking up or down at the camera and you’ll always be in frame no matter how you move.

when you’re at a loss for words…

When producing videos, we spend a lot of time on how it’s going to “look.”  But for interview-driven videos, what it “says” can be even more important. What do you do if you set up the shoot, sit down for the interview, ask all the right questions…and get all the wrong answers?  Conduct an interview before the interview.  Set up a pre-interview phone call prior to shoot and ask all your questions in advance.  This gives your subject a chance to practice their answers and you a chance to guide them if answers are straying from the main message. This way, your on-camera interview doesn’t turn into a fishing expedition and you know the answers in advance, so if nerves or memory issues kick in, you can guide the answers in the direction you need.

when one size does NOT fit all…

Each client and video shoot is different – with unique goals, needs and schedules. The more user generated and remote virtual “interview” shoots we produce, the more our clients find themselves not only on-camera, but as a crucial member of the crew.  Make sure you know the tech needs and limitations of each client, as well as the person you’re interviewing. Are they using a Mac or PC?  Can you send them higher quality recording equipment?  When it comes to remote shoots, it’s important to know just how user-generated or professional the end product needs to look. But as always, the goal is to get the best sound and video possible for our clients’ needs.

Of course preparation is vital when planning any type of shoot, but here at MK3 we’re not afraid to think on our feet. You can’t prepare for every problem that occurs, but you can prepare to be prepared…and that’s always part of the plan.

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

make working from home work for you

Working from home isn’t always as easy, or as relaxing, as it sounds. Video conferencing platforms and document sharing tools help us to connect and collaborate with our clients and co-workers, but how do we stay focused and motivated? Here are a few tips from our hard-at-work team!

rise and shine 

As simple as it sounds, how you start the day can help create the day you’re looking for. We’re all creatures of habit, but whether you’re a morning glory or a night owl, try waking up 30 minutes earlier than you usually do and set the tone for the day.

Every morning, Mary starts her day at 5:45 am by working out and walking her dog Séamus. And then, she gets ‘dressed’ for work.  Dressing professionally, even if she’s working from home, gives her an added sense of “normalcy”.

“When I make the time to do pilates and walk my dog Séamus at sunrise – my day always turns out better.” 

Mary Poluikis
Group Program Director 

create your own distractions

Make sure your home workspace is comfortable, but not too comfortable.  Many people’s “home offices” are actually quieter than their “work offices,” so having no distractions can actually…be a distraction.  Play music, open a window, or find a spot with a view that engages you without sidetracking you.

Jonathan describes his at-home workspace as peaceful, though he misses the constant hum of the office, and the accidental hallway meetings and watercooler collaborations.

 “I have an actual office I work in that’s quiet and free of distractions, on the top floor of our home.  My desk faces windows, so I play ‘70s soft rock music throughout the house and enjoy a sunny, leafy bird’s-eye view of the neighborhood.” 

Jonathan Markella
Executive Creative Director 

separate but equal

Working from home does have its perks, but drawing a line between personal and professional space is key.  Set up a unique workspace away from your kitchen and out of your bedroom, avoiding the clutter and personal baggage that come with each.

Mark has made sure his workspace is for working, and his living space is for living. With a laptop, your office can be anywhere, so making a workspace that works is up to you.

“It’s helpful for me to separate my “home office” from my “home” and keep to “normal” work hours. Taking breaks is an important part of being comfortable and allows me to refuel, recharge and stay productive throughout the day.” 

Mark DiTondo
Creative Director

one screen at a time

Keeping up with clients and projects is a constant, but consider limiting your screen time beyond that. Social media is one of the best ways to stay connected and informed, but one of the easiest ways to get distracted. Take advantage of your own discipline or your smart phone’s screen limit feature to restrict time on your phone.

Like all of us, Jenn relies on email for the majority of her internal communications, so there’s not a lot of reason for her to be on her phone during the day. Jenn also unplugs by closing out of work tabs on her computer when she’s done for the day.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to being a project manager, so scheduling out when I’m going to be working on a specific thing is important. When I’m online, I tend to give myself a time limit for a certain task.”

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

time out

Having creative pursuits outside of work can help keep your mind fresh. Working from home has allowed John to spend some of his newfound time (what commute?) focusing on his hobbies. By being closer to his home studio, he can spend more time painting after work.

“I’ve always had creative pursuits and hobbies outside of work. For years it was live music, and now it’s oil painting. When I have a few paintings I’m working on in my off hours, it gives my brain a fresh perspective for the design and storytelling I create during the day.” 

 John Lawrence
Creative Director

give me a break

Routines are great for establishing balance, but we recommend taking breaks to make your day a bit more enjoyable and productive. From writer’s block to energy lags, we all have obstacles to overcome throughout the day, so do things that let your mind escape from work, even for a few moments.

The pandemic has allowed Joel to establish a new work/life balance – he now takes a more traditional lunch break and regularly checks in with his wife, while still maintaining his productive day.

“I think it’s critical to get away from the computer every 2-3 hours. I find myself getting fatigued with the computer screen and a lot of virtual events. Some days I try to finish my day at home for a change of scenery.” 

 Joel Kaplan
Principal/Founder

Change is hard, and adapting takes focus and motivation.  We’ve all had to adapt to a new environment – many of us by moving our workplace into our homes, where we lead an entirely different life.  Not letting these worlds collide has been one of the many challenges of 2020.  Here at MK3, each one of us has found our own form of balance, so that we are capable of doing what we’ve always done – getting things done.  We hope our tips help you find a balance of your own.

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

meet MK3’s fall interns!

MK3 values our internship program and has been offering college students the opportunity to gain real world marketing experience since 2009.  Our interns work together to drive MK3’s digital marketing efforts, and with the help of file sharing and virtual meeting platforms, we’re collaborating with each other and the rest of the MK3 team while safely working remotely. As the seasons begin to change, we’re excited to welcome our three fall interns. These three talented women have already hit the ground running and we can’t wait to see what they’ll bring to the team! Meet Emerson, Ashley, and Sabrina!

Emerson is a rising junior at Brandeis University, majoring in American Studies with minors in Journalism and History. Outside the classroom, Emerson plays for the women’s volleyball team and writes for the Brandeis Hoot student newspaper. Due to the pandemic, she’s taking this semester off to focus on MK3’s Creative Marketing internship. Emerson works alongside our team to create blog posts, design social media content, and manage our email marketing.

Ashley is a first semester student-athlete at Emerson College, majoring in Sports Communication with a minor in Journalism. Beyond academics, she is a captain of the women’s basketball team and enjoys art as well as exploring new coffee shops around Boston. Ashley is MK3’s Content Marketing Intern this fall and helps to develop our social media and blog posts.

Sabrina is a senior at Boston University, majoring in Advertising and minoring in Psychology. Outside of her studies, she enjoys working with Boston University on Broadway (musical theater) and watching NBA and MLB games with her roommates. Sabrina is our Marketing Strategy Intern, contributing to the production of blog content and social media, and working with MK3’s account management team on our referral program.

Our interns are getting involved with our day-to-day operations as we enter our busy fall season and continue to play a crucial role at MK3. We value the contributions our interns offer, and the fresh perspective, insight and ideas they bring to the table each semester.  MK3 specializes in telling our client’s stories, and now, our interns have the opportunity to tell our own.

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

MK3 Shoot Day Checklist

Live action, in-person video production is making a comeback. We’re seeing more and more clients considering (and scheduling) on-location video shoots. And while there are guidelines we’re following to help keep people safe, we can’t forget the “evergreen” guidelines for a successful shoot! To help you stay on top of your shoot day, we’ve put together this checklist that our producers swear by.

Print. It. Out.

We live in a digital world, but good old fashioned paper still has its place – and that place is on-location! Video production is fast-paced and hands-on, so you can’t rely on your location’s wi-fi access or ask your crew to read from handheld devices – chances are they have their hands full already! On the day of your shoot, or even the night before, print out hard copies of the production schedule, shot lists, storyboards and interview questions – whatever you’re going to need during the shoot. This will help everyone keep track of what needs to happen and when. Print out enough copies of the production schedule for the crew and clients (pro tip: a few extras never hurt). Of course, be sure to recycle the paper at the end of the day!

Keep in Touch

Communication is always key! Be sure to gather cell phone numbers and email addresses for the cast, crew and clients ahead of time and put them in your phone. Send important documents and information out at least one day before the shoot day, keeping everyone up to date on the schedule and shoot locations. Bolded and/or highlighted text within an email is a good attention-getting trick.

Meet Everyone’s Basic Needs

Video shoot days are long ones – and sometimes projects require several of them. Make sure everyone’s needs are met – even the most basic ones. Food and water is a must, and with any outdoor shoot, make sure there’s a bathroom onsite – it’s a small but important detail. Check on dietary restrictions and include meals (and their delivery times) in the schedule. Oh, and don’t forget – early mornings require coffee! A good shoot usually starts with caffeinated clients and crew!

Stay Organized

No matter how thorough your shoot schedule is, you won’t be able to plan for everything. Be flexible and ready to adapt. But stay organized! You might fall a bit behind schedule…and that’s okay! As the day progresses, keep track of the shots that are taking longer and always look for ways to make up time. They often present themselves in ways you’d least expect.

Go the Extra Mile

We’ll say it again: “a few extras never hurt.” Pack a bag with extra talent and location releases, schedules, pens, makeup powder, etc. One thing you can always plan on is that someone will forget something. And with the current safety guidelines, don’t forget to bring extra masks and hand sanitizer.

The morning of a video shoot can be a bit nerve-wracking, but staying organized and prepared can make the difference between a day of problems or a day of productivity. For more help organizing your next video shoot, reach out to info@mk3creative.com.

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

MK3 Tips: Building Your Brand with LinkedIn

Information overload.
It’s a thing. And when it comes to building your brand, it’s hard to know where to begin. LinkedIn could be a great place to start, with tools to help you spread the word while engaging with your industry community – and the best part, it’s free! Here are a few tips to fully engage your LinkedIn account.

Make a good first impression

You know what they say about “first impressions”…you don’t get a second one. Your LinkedIn profile acts as a landing page, and when expanding your network, it’s often the first thing people will see. Make sure to add a cover image, profile picture, and bio so visitors can understand what your brand represents. The easier you make it for people to learn about you the better!

Put your name out there

Sharing thought leadership articles and company accomplishments are a great way to spread your name and reflect your brand’s personality, culture and ideals. Encourage your team to share relevant articles for more brand exposure, which is sure to generate more clicks, name recognition and page traffic.

Join groups

With over 690 million users, LinkedIn provides a platform for hundreds of like-minded industry-driven groups to gather and share. Find ones that align with your goals and join them! Spread your name and gain valuable industry insight by engaging with and learning from other brands.

Make your posts pop

A consistent posting schedule has been proven to increase following and engagement, which makes generating engaging content crucial to building your brand and network. Try to post 1-2 times a week – promote your new blog, announce an exciting project! And make sure your posts stand out by including descriptive captions, eye-catching images and hashtags.

Building your brand in today’s digital environment isn’t easy. But there are plenty of quick and easy ways to lay the foundation, and if you want to go beyond LinkedIn to increase your marketing presence, MK3 is here to help! Reach out to info@mk3creative.com. 

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer

Creativity in Video Production: Working with What You Have

These days, social and professional distancing are in and traveling around the world to shoot live video is, sort of…out. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to create new content. Sometimes you gotta work with what you have and that’s exactly what we did with long-time client SHI!

After many years of producing SHI’s live events, they asked MK3 to collaborate on a new video campaign, starting with a branding video. One of the main goals of the video was to highlight their “ridiculously helpful” employees, who are spread out in offices across the globe. And there was the problem: the current environment did not allow for live video shoots. And while using stock footage has been a solution for many productions, it was not an option for SHI because they wanted the authenticity of their own people in the video.

The solution came in stages. First, SHI suggested we use video from a large library of footage they had shot on location in their New Jersey, Texas and UK offices. Problem solved…with a slight concern that while the footage did capture SHI and their people “in action,” it wasn’t “custom” shot with this video and messaging in mind, so there may be a bit of a disconnect.

MK3 then created the second “solution” – we designed and animated a two dimensional “environment” for the footage to live in – framing each shot and showcasing text on-screen call-outs that reinforced the voiceover. This branded “framing device” became as prominent an on-screen element as the footage itself, acting as a singular consistent visual thread that pulled all the footage together.

 

 

Resourcefulness and creativity were, and are, the keys to our collaboration with SHI. Given the conditions we were working under and what we could create, we were able to produce a story that communicated who the company was and the people behind the brand. Check it out above!

If you find yourself with a legacy library of video footage, there are always ways to refocus, repurpose and repackage it so that it can deliver new ideas and new messaging! It’s all about making everything old feel new again!

For more info or help with your next production, reach out to info@mk3creative.com.

Jenn Brown
Senior Producer