Get to know Mattison Brooks, Public Relations Manager

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

My love of public relations spun off from a combination of my early journalism career, a deep love for American history, and my love of good storytelling. After a short but intense stint covering politics on Capitol Hill at CNN and working local news in a few regional Virginia markets and my hometown in Western Canada, I realized I wanted to do communications differently than I had previously. I learned that I was really excited by taking on the challenges of shaping messaging, crafting narratives, and helping organizations navigate the media world, crisis communications, and engaging the public in mission-focused communications. Working in the non-profit world was an easy jump after graduate school. And that road ultimately led me to here – a new and exciting way to keep telling great stories and engaging clients in new and innovative ways.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

Anyone that knows me knows that this is a multi-hour discussion. However, because I’ve got a word limit, I’ll grudgingly choose one; and that is The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring. This movie never fails to give me chills to this day – and as a young kid, this movie blew my mind. The movie score, the cinematography, the acting, the scale and scope of what was built and created gave life to Tolkien’s masterpiece. I truly believe there’s never been a movie like it… and short of the new Dune movies, there may never be again.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

The last book I read was a guilty pleasure: World War Z by Max Brooks. Totally just an entertaining and thrilling book, written in the form of a pseudo-documentary about a global war against zombies. The movie wasn’t great, but the book is fantastic. The last book that I read that inspired me and spoke to me was probably Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. The life of George Washington is truly something that people need to read to believe. There’s something very inspiring about a person whose singular commitment to honor and duty shaped the way that we view civic virtue and our system of government to this day. Not without his flaws, the book also does a wonderful job exploring how deeply complicated and conflicted Washington was with his own family, his career, and his view of the revolution he helped fight. How that book and the story of George Washington hasn’t been given a proper treatment or at least translated into an HBO mini-series a-la John Adams or Chernobyl, is beyond me.

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or outside of work commitment that is important to you.

I am really into winter sports, which makes living in Florida an interesting place for someone who grew up playing ice hockey and snowboarding. But any time I can manage to get to the mountains I feel completely refreshed. There’s nothing quite like the total peace and quiet at the top of a mountain. It is a great place to clear your head and decompress.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I am an avid cook and am constantly trying out new recipes for my wife and me. Not all of them are winners, but we’ve stumbled across some absolutely great ones that have become staples in our house. To quote the great classic, Ratatouille: “You must try things that may not work. Anyone can cook; but only the fearless can be great.”

Advertisement

Get to know Liz Rubino, Media Relations Coordinator

Public relations is all about relationships—the people behind the stories. That’s why we’re offering this blog series all about our team members. This isn’t about our professional accomplishments but who we are as people. We hope you have as much fun reading along as we do interviewing each other.

1. What got you interested in public relations?

I started out my career after graduating from college as a radiologic technologist. After my first child was born, I was a stay-at-home mom to my four children for many years. Our good friends across the street had six kids and they were friends with our kids. In 2007, Gary (the founder of Kimball Hughes PR and our good friend across the street), asked me if I would like to come and work for him. So here I am, 15 years later working in public relations.

2. Tell us about your favorite movie and what appeals most to you about it?

I have always liked movies that Robin Williams has been in and the variety of characters he has played. One of my favorite movies is Mrs. Doubtfire. He is a father who loves his kids and does just about anything to make sure he is a part of their lives each day. Although everything changes within the structure of the family, they were able to come together, compromise and still be a family, just in a different way.

3. What was the last, best book you read and what about it spoke to you?

I like to read mysteries and one author I enjoy is Agatha Christie. Murder on the Orient Express is one of my favorites that takes place on a train that has had to stop due to heavy snow. One of the main characters is detective Hercule Poirot, who appeared in many of Christie’s novels. He  is precise with his methods he uses to solve crimes and not shy in letting everyone know.

4. Tell us about a meaningful hobby or “outside of work” commitment that is important to you?

Becoming a mom has been one of the best parts of my life and now I am a grandmother for the first time. My 2-year-old grandson always puts a smile on my face. He has a great personality and is quite the character. I look forward to spending time with him each week.

5. Share a fun fact about you.

I moved to Florida after I got married and my husband signed me up for scuba diving classes without my knowledge. I was very nervous about taking the classes, but I ended up enjoying the lessons and being best in class on my test. I only got to go diving four times, but each time I enjoyed the experience and the beauty under the water.  

Working Remotely: Creating the Perfect Atmosphere


socialstratmatt / Foter / CC BY-SA

Working remotely has its perks: no commute, comfy clothes, fewer distractions. But it’s key to create the right atmosphere for yourself. Choosing the right space, desk, wall color, etc. all play a role in creating the right atmosphere. Remember, your bed does not count as an office space. Below, we explore the elements that create the perfect working environment.

Space
If you work remotely, I cannot stress enough how important it is to create a separate work space. “Whenever possible, try to differentiate your workspace from your personal space. For instance, it’s not always the best idea to set up your desk in your bedroom, since you can get easily distracted and want to take a nap,” Curt Mercadante says on his blog.  Try setting up a spot away from distractions. If you’re tempted to take a nap, do laundry or tidy up on the kitchen, it’s probably best to avoid the bedroom, laundry room or kitchen.

Desk ergonomics and color play a key role
Having the right desk set up is essential. How you sit can affect your posture, productivity and comfort level. If you’re slumping over and uncomfortable, you may be less likely to perform at your highest potential. Try different desk options and see which one suits you best.

Color can play a big role in productivity and mood. As mentioned in the Huffington Post, the color green can make you more creative. Avoid “loud” colors like red and orange – as they may be distracting and too harsh on the eyes.

Noise
Try setting up a spot away from noise. For example, if the front of your house faces a busy street, set up your space opposite of that. This may seem little in the scheme of things, but it’s an important factor to consider.

All these factors play an important role in creating the ideal atmosphere and increasing productivity. What is your ideal work-at-home space?

Photo credit: socialstratmatt / Foter / CC BY-SA

PR pros, take a lunch break!

Lunch at Koinonia

Wouldn’t it be nice to eat without getting mayo all over your keyboard?

We’re all guilty of not talking a lunch break and eating over our laptops at times. Even if we do step out for a “break,” we’re usually fiddling with our phones, checking emails, etc. Many PR professionals eat lunch at their desks. “Sixty-nine percent of PR professionals eat lunch at their desk rather than joining that chatty klatch heading out to a nearby deli, according to the PR Daily Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey” (PR Daily) With the year coming to a close, PR pros are especially busy planning for 2014, but it’s not an excuse to skip lunch.

Why it’s vital to take a lunch break

  • Food=fuel. If you take some time for lunch, you’ll have more energy to tackle the next project.
  • If you step away from your desk, you’ll be able to clear your mind and take a break from the digital world.
  • Heidi Mitchell (WSJ) discusses other benefits of taking a lunch break in this video, “Is Taking a Lunch Break Better for Your Health?

A few things you may want to do on your break

  • Refuel, but not with coffee. Try an apple or fruit instead.
  • Take your dog for a stroll if you’re nearby or work from home.
  • Take some time to breathe in the fresh air to help relax your mind.
  • Pamper yourself occasionally. Why not schedule a massage?

Like this post if you’re sitting at your desk reading on your “lunch break.”

Photo credit: NatalieMaynor / Foter.com / CC BY

Tackling Obesity in the Workplace

Obesity and overall health in the corporate world is becoming an increasing problem especially in the United States. Jobs that require sitting at a desk all day do not help. But should workers care? More importantly, should employers worry about the weight of their workers?

Aaron Landry / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Obesity is more than just a number on a scale

  • Larger employees cost employers.  MarketWatch says, “Obesity-related health problems account for a big chunk of medical claims, insurance experts say, leading some executives to believe the best way to trim their budgets is to get workers to trim their own fat first.”
  • Obesity in the workplace costs businesses billions of dollars each year. “Full-time workers in the US who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health conditions miss an estimated 450 million additional days of work each year compared with healthy workers — resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually, according to a 2011 Gallup Poll.” (via Obesity Campaign)
  • Obesity can compound other injuries. According to an article in Insurance Journal, “Obesity increases the healing times of fractures, strains and sprains, and complicates surgery.”
  • The Obesity Campaign states there are more than 60 chronic diseases associated with obesity.

So there is an argument to be made that obesity is more than just a personal issue. It’s a professional liability in some instances. The question then becomes what can be done. What can/should employers do, and what options are available for more sedentary work environments?

  • Employers should encourage employees to get up from their desk each hour or so, even if only for a few minutes.
  • Where possible, employers might consider providing standings desks. Read about one Philly business offering this option.
  • Offer treadmill desks. Researchers speaking with Harvard Business Review suggest treadmill desks may be a good fit in terms of health and productivity.
  • Instead of having a coffee machine, provide fresh fruits and water to boost energy and productivity.
  • Provide healthier options at the cafeteria such as salad bars and healthier vending machine options.
  • Instead of having sedentary brainstorming meetings, try having a walking meeting outside (weather permitting!)
  • Offer wellness programs tailored to individuals to meet their specific needs.

Sure, incorporating healthier options and wellness programs might offer upfront costs, but a wealth of research indicates the savings in terms of workers’ compensation matters, sick time and overall employee health are significant.

Photo credit: Aaron Landry / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA