Rapp Strategies Rundown – July 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I am a sucker for Wimbledon (unbelievable number of upsets in the Ladies’ Draw this year). One of my sons gave me Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue. If he thinks I should read it, I’m in! Cabin listening over the July 4th week was “70’s on 7” on SiriusXM.  We all need a little Poco tossed into our barbecues. 

Todd S.: I'm going to make a point to see the movie, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" about the life and career of Fred Rogers, the host and creator of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Beyond his legacy for teaching children love, tolerance and understanding, Rogers was a remarkable communicator. He sharply focused on his key themes and messages, then creatively and poignantly delivered them in ways that engaged generations of young people. His messaging approach – personal engagement, simplified points, anecdotes, imagery – is textbook communications work, and a good lesson for serious communications specialists.

Sarah: After being pestered by friends for over a year to watch “Man in the High Castle,” I finally did. I have zero regrets about binging this fantastic show set in a dystopian alternative version of the 1960’s where Germany and Japan won WWII. Knox and Jamie of “The Popcast” often accompany me on my daily walk to and from work. A podcast that’s “dedicated to delightful idiocy and committed to educating on things that entertain, but do not matter,” they offer hilarious takes on everything from slang via Urban Dictionary to seasonal movie previews.

Aaron: Ian Fleming’s original James Bond series will keep me preoccupied throughout July. The three titles on the docket are Dr. No, Thunderball, and Diamonds are Forever.  

Anna: I recently finished A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner, an evocative novel that moves between the perspective of a nurse on Ellis Island in 1911 and a single mom in New York City ten years after 9/11. I have also started to receive afternoon updates from The Star Tribune, which has been a helpful way to catch up on news before the end of the work day.

Andrea: Sometimes, I find myself binge watching fitness videos on YouTube. A favorite channel is “Athlean-X,” where physical therapist and strength coach Jeff Cavaliere takes you beyond ordinary fitness and into the science behind nutrition, the muscular system and overall athleticism.

RSI Staff
Staff Spotlight: Sarah Oliver
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Account Executive Sarah Oliver works with clients to formulate and execute a broad range of digital strategies and tactics that best serve their communications goals.

“I appreciate getting to flex my creative muscles and learn new skills to help clients,” Sarah says. “Whether I’m assisting clients with websites, social media or other digital communications, seeing their visions come to life never gets old.”

After graduating from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Sarah worked as a press assistant on a 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. She then worked as a legislative assistant at the Minnesota Senate during the 2015 session.

“I landed at Rapp Strategies a bit serendipitously in December 2015 after catching up with an old colleague that had connections here,” Sarah explains. “I’m very happy I did!”

How have you grown as a professional since you started working at Rapp Strategies?

Todd has afforded me a space to expand the skills I’m most interested in developing while learning more about the profession as a whole. He lets me tackle big projects and use my problem-solving skills more independently. Working with the Rapp Strategies team has been a great experience to learn and grow with people who have different skills and experiences than I do. 

What is your favorite aspect of your job?

I love that each day is different and I’m never working on just one client or topic each day. The variety keeps things exciting!

What is one habit that makes you more successful?

I love learning. If no one in the office knows how to do something a client needs or how to use a certain program, I’m your girl. Having to learn something new and challenge myself to solve problems is exciting!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A lawyer, and I still think about it occasionally. Then I remember the extra $120K+ in student loans and am grateful I really like my current job.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Graduating college in three years and landing a job right away.

What is one thing about you few people know?

I love genealogy and history.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

To celebrate the process – taking the right steps, making big decisions – not just the results or accomplishing a goal.

What is one piece of wisdom you would give your younger self?

Learn to let go of expectations you have because life will surprise you, and it’ll be better than you had planned.

Rapp Strategies Rundown – June 2018

What we’re reading, listening to and thinking about this month.

Todd R.: I'm starting Katy Tur's book Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History on the 2016 campaign, and the challenges of covering a presidential election while Donald Trump was re-writing the rules of campaigning. Preet Bharara's podcast "Stay Tuned" is in the middle of a four-part series about how the federal criminal justice system works from the inside. Great stuff. I've put my iPhone on "shuffle" this week - had a back-to-back of Arcade Fire’s “Modern Man,” Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Thankfully, no one can hear me sing in my car.

Todd S.: June seems like the perfect month to revisit a favorite book – Fantasyland by Sam Walker. The story is about Walker’s attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition with no experience playing fantasy baseball. This, he writes, is "like trying to learn the cello by joining the London Philharmonic." It’s a fun, sharply written book with quirky characters and great insights into America’s pastime and how it’s evolved. Walker is currently the WSJ’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that oversees the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects.

Rita: My summer reading list has to include best-selling titles that no longer have long waitlists at the library. On the summer stack: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

Sarah: One of my favorite follows on Twitter is @FiveThirtyEight – they deliver data-driven stories in an easily digestible format. I’m a sucker for a good historical fiction novel and just finished The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Up next is At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen.

Aaron: I am currently reading Paul Strathern’s novel The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance. A very readable history of the Medici family and their influence on the renaissance.

Anna: I enjoy the advice and insight of contributors to Fairygodboss, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of women professionals. I am also reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, a stunning and atmospheric summer novel. And my day always begins with Blois Olson's Morning Take, a tip sheet of top Minnesota news stories.

Andrea: I was recently introduced to “tiny desk,” an NPR video series of intimate music performances by artists in all genres. It’s an awesome and creative introduction to new music.

Staff Spotlight: Rita Beatty
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As an Account Supervisor at Rapp Strategies, Rita Beatty works with clients to identify goals and develop workplans to get them where they want to go. Rita also oversees staff to keep clients’ strategic plans on time and on task. “Every client is different – there are always many factors in play, and reaching some goals is more challenging than others,” says Rita. “Regardless, without a roadmap you can’t reach your destination.”

Rita’s experience in Twin Cities TV newsrooms and with a large local nonprofit helped prepare her for her planning and project management work at Rapp Strategies. “Each TV newscast is like a mini project: you have to have a plan, you must be on the air on time and you need to work with your team to get the show put together. At Rapp Strategies, team members have complementary skill sets that help us continually push each other to look at issues from different angles and find new and better solutions for clients.”

How have you grown as a professional since you started working at Rapp Strategies three years ago?

I have learned a lot from Todd, who asks the right questions to move an issue to the next level. Todd’s a master of situational analysis and is always thinking ten steps down the road. Those are all strategic skills I am seeking to build upon.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? 

I will always and forever love writing. But nothing beats really becoming a team member with clients and celebrating their wins!

What is one habit that makes you more successful?

I am a hard worker – I like to work!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In my high school yearbook, I predicted I would be a producer for David Letterman.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

My family.

What is one thing about you few people know?

I worked as an extra out in Hollywood in my 20s.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

What is one piece of wisdom you would give your younger self? 

Believe in yourself.

Shaping Understanding

Many of our clients come to us because they seek to advance important ideas – in areas such as public health, education, or business growth, we are asked to draw attention to ways to improve the quality of life in the Upper Midwest.  Part of this can be seeking ways to enhance the client’s reputation as a thought leader on an issue.

Other times, our clients ask us to help them prevent a bad idea from advancing, or manage a potential risk to the reputation they have spent decades building. 

In each of these instances, Rapp Strategies’ goal is to shape understanding of key audiences – helping others understand your organization’s vision, goals and challenges.  Shaping understanding – whether the focus is a specific issue or your overall reputation – is an essential component of business success. 

Every organization has a mission or purpose. 

  • What are the core values behind that mission? 
  • What drives people to work for you as employees or volunteers? 
  • What are your biggest challenges?  
  • What is the simple story you want to leave with your audiences? 

The answers provide a clearer understanding of who you are and where you’re going.

At Rapp Strategies, Inc., we help organizations pursue their full potential, overcome obstacles and achieve business goals. 

We are strategists. We are relentless thinkers. We solve problems. We advance great ideas.

Your organization is unique, and we make sure that our planning is tailored to your unique needs. We help our clients communicate their value in an authentic way. That’s how we make your outreach and engagement plans more effective. 

How do we shape understanding for your organization? Here is where we start:

  • We work to understand your goals.
  • We identify your opportunities to achieve those goals and the risks you will encounter.
  • We develop a strategy, not an off-the-shelf retread but a strategy tailored specifically to your needs.
  • We create an action plan, one that can be implemented by the client or in partnership with the Rapp Strategies team.
  • We develop outcomes and benchmarks that we can work towards, because every great trip needs a destination.

Shaping understanding is a fundamental objective of our work. We cultivate relationships inside your organization and help you connect with those from the outside. We work alongside our clients to maximize their expertise and insights.  And with that understanding, we find a path to success.

Most of all – we stay focused on the target.  If you are successful managing issues ... if you are building and sustaining the reputation you seek … then we’ve done our job.