Blog - Apple Box Studios a Pittsburg Advertising Agency


Internal Communications v/s Human Resources: Are they the same?

The lines between Human Resource Management and Internal Communications is often blurred. Many companies see these as one in the same, while others have separate departments and/or employees for these functions. Both functions are engaging with the same audience (employees), so it makes sense that they work closely together.

Definition of Human Resources (HR) – The division of a company that is focused on activities relating to employees. These activities normally include recruiting and hiring new employees, orientation and training of current employees, employee benefits and retention.

Definition of Internal Communications (IC) – The way a company interacts/communicates with it’s people/employees and how they interact in return.

It’s critical that both departments be on the same page when it comes to policy, messaging, expectations and internal tactics. Communication is the KEY factor.  Internal Communications wants to communicate with every employee, and HR has access to a great deal of their vital information. Collaboration is a must.

In the end, when IC provides employees with ongoing vision, purpose and encouragement, HR is better equipped to support their employees and maintain a happy and healthy team! This in turn provides stability and success! All is right in the world.

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Brand Recognition and Success

Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of friends and someone says “that sounds like something Rachel would say”? Or maybe you’re driving in your car and hear a song come on and say to yourself “this sounds an awful lot like Taylor Swift”?

Well, effective branding and advertising work the same way. A brand should have its own voice—its own personality—and should be instantly recognizable. It is a strategically curated emotional expression of your value that lives in people’s hearts and minds. When done right, branding becomes a beautiful collaboration of design, writing and experience, all combining to produce a very specific feeling.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, once said, “a brand isn’t a logo or a website, it’s what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” It’s that emotional “gut feeling” reaction a company can elicit from its customers. Photography, graphic design and copywriting are all elements that help support and build a brand, but in a nutshell, your brand is the set of perceptions people have about your company.

At the end of the day, marketing is the process that brings you the leads and sales but branding is the foundation upon which you build your reputation and customer loyalty.

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The Axial Age of Media

When 14 year old Philo Farnsworth looked out on his Idaho farm in 1921, he saw plows moving across the fields, back and forth. In his imagination, he saw an electron gun drawing an image much in the same way. By the time he was 21 he had built the first television, or image dissector as he called it and the way we consume media was forever changed.

That time could be considered an axial age, or a pivot point in history where the changes that follow are of significance.  History has pivoted once again and we are living in an age where your phone makes higher resolution images than broadcast cameras did 10 years ago. Multiple technologies like LED displays, CMOS sensors and high-speed connectivity are changing the way we consume media once again.

The professional side of media creation is also at a turning point. Cameras like the Alexa from Arri and the RED product line are creating cinematic imagery on par with film. Some may say even surpassing it. 5 years ago when you’d visit RED’s website they would brag about films that were shot on RED, a small percentage compared to film. Now, things are the other way around. There’s even a lower end market with DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) and DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) cameras that are worlds better than the best digital cameras were 10 years ago. Then there’s the high-definition camera we carry in our pocket.

There is a great spectrum of technological change upon us, for the high-end filmmaker to the teenager with the latest phone. Now everyone has access to content creation. But the biggest part of the uprising is that now everyone has somewhere to put it. Social media and high-speed connectivity give everyone an outlet for their thoughts and ideas to be recorded for posterity. We are now using video (and images) to communicate ideas to one another at an unprecedented rate across unprecedented distances. As an image is worth a thousand words, we now have a higher bandwidth of communication, using Instagram, YouTube, Facebook , Twitter, etc. to communicate our experiences to a personalized audience. Humans are doing what they’ve been doing for tens of thousands of years as far as communicating thoughts goes, but now we can do it faster. Unbelievably faster. So the question really is: what 14 year old is out there visualizing something profound? Are we living in an axial age of tech or is the real pivot point coming when that 14 year old turns 21 and changes the world as we know it. Let’s just hope it’s for the good.

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FIGHTING COMPLACENCY with a Powerful Employee Communications Plan

Complacency is one of the most pervasive problems facing American companies today, especially larger corporations where accountability can easily fall through the cracks.

But how can organizations encourage accountability? How can you incentivize a culture of ownership? How can companies not only communicate with their employees, but truly inspire and motivate them? This is the root mission of every HR department tasked with optimizing the productivity and value of society’s most formidable resource: its people.

To do this, most successful businesses provide two simple things: the direction forward and the motivation to move ahead. They also maintain a strong brand identity closely associated with their mission and purpose. This internal branding acts as a central rallying point encouraging employees to deliver on the promise of their chosen profession.

With this goal in mind, a powerful and consistent communications campaign should be integrated into every moving part of the company—every possible touch point, every meeting and elevator ride. Imagine this messaging in countless derivative forms—as a screen saver, in every leadership speech, at the bottom of every email, on the stub of your paycheck, on lobby posters, integrated into an incentive program, echoed in your weekly sales meetings or the driving theme of a new community relations program.

A persuasive employee communications campaign becomes the energy source that fuels leadership and makes a company tick. Without robust, ongoing and well branded employee communications, your workforce will lack a sense of purpose. With a strong, omnipresent plan, every employee knows the way forward.

This is how you fight the never-ending battle of complacency. You inspire employees to care with bold words and a clear vision. Only then will your communication efforts become more than messaging—it will become a movement.

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Facebook—A Powerful Tool in the world of Advertising

Social media is constantly changing before our eyes.  The new features and tools delivered through each platform make it a valuable tool for us to take advantage of in advertising. When developing marketing campaigns, social media is not something we can ignore or view as optional anymore. It’s absolutely necessary for a successful digital marketing campaign.

While some may say that Facebook has lost its popularity among it’s younger users, those of us working in advertising have a different view.  We see the platform as a very useful tool. To get the most out of Facebook when building digital campaigns, we must keep up with the updates of Facebook Business Manager.

You can learn more about the emerging features of this tool in this helpful article that serves as a guide: 

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Track & React

Urgency. Detail. Optimization. Creativity. Today’s marketing and communications industry calls for it all- and then some. At Apple Box Studios, we view project work through a lens of how to refine an audience, how to make a campaign more interesting, how to make a message grow. With that comes the requirement to be able to juggle multiple client projects and to never fall short on service.

To manage effectively and efficiently, I tell myself two things every day. Track and react.


As a project manager, one of my key responsibilities is to keep track of all moving project parts. Project milestones, team progress, client communications and of course industry news. At the start of each week I set priorities for every project phase, reorganize those priorities, and follow-up. Let’s just say my calendar is one of my best friends.


Working in an ad agency has taught me how to react, quickly. As an extension of our client’s team, we must be able to lend support. Whether it takes the form of video production or media planning, there always seems to be a race for time. So quick reactions are key to keep moving. Also, as an ad agency, it is important that we react to what’s going on in the market space today. Whether that be utilizing the latest trends on social media or creating innovative communication tools on behalf of our clients.

Tracking and reacting provides a proactive work balance in my department- leaving everything else to fall into place.

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My Advertising Internship: Claire’s Experience

As my junior year at Grove City College flew by, I knew that the upcoming summer was imperative for me to explore the “real world” and gain as much experience as possible in what I am passionate about: creativity and integrated marketing communications. These interests sparked my search for an internship at a Pittsburgh advertising agency, and instantly, Apple Box Studios caught my eye! Their work as an ad agency is unparalleled in its creative messaging and visuals, and when I was told that I had the opportunity to join this team as a marketing communications intern, I was beyond excited!

Stepping into the office my first day on the job was really intimidating (I mean, who wouldn’t be a little afraid of a group of creative geniuses all together in one place?!). But immediately, I felt SO welcome by every member of the team. They were so kind and patient in helping me learn the ropes of the agency and explaining my role in each project. Even the owner, Mike Wertz, consistently took time out of his crazy, busy schedule to check up on me and make sure that I was involved and enjoying my time here. As a team, we were able to bond and have fun together both inside and outside the office, including some happy hours, Starbucks trips, Ducky Tours and some delicious Moe’s catering!

Throughout the summer, I was able to work with everyone and help the team in numerous ways, including the Gamma Pickleball Classic 2018 (which was a BLAST and a MAJOR success!). I had the opportunity to assist the amazing Account Executives, Alyssa, Lisa and Dan in a lot of work for their clients. It was so rewarding to be able to see my contributions play a part in the final project’s success and the client’s satisfaction. With these creative people, I was able to explore the areas of integrated marketing communications through working with clients’ websites, videos, and social media. The knowledge and experience that I gained from them is undoubtedly more than anything I could have learned from a textbook.

Being able to partake in the daily life of an ad agency was an amazing experience, but meeting and working with the people at Apple Box Studios was an even greater one. It’s no secret that this ad agency produces incomparable work for each of their clients and I was beyond lucky to spend my summer with them and learn how it’s done. Thank you, Apple Box Studios, for an unforgettable summer and preparing me for a future in integrated marketing communications!

Summer Memories with Claire






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Understanding Google’s Ranking Criteria for SEO

A common interest of many business owners is getting their company to rank high in Google search rankings.  In order to accomplish this seemingly difficult task, we must first understand exactly how Google Search Ranking works.  This article from Blue Corona breaks things down in a simplified manner to help us better understand Google’s algorithm for SEO.


January 17, 2018

By Abby Kelly

What happened to Amelia Earhart? How many licks does it take to get to the center of those lollipops? What’s really going on in Area 51? Life is full of mysteries we may never get the answers to. What it takes to rank higher in Google isn’t one of them. One of the greatest questions in the SEO world is what exactly goes into Google’s ranking algorithm. If only we could Google the answer, right?! Although Google keeps its official list of ranking factors a secret, the key to get your business to rank higher on Google is not as mysterious as it may seem. In fact, we’ve cracked the code, and have a bunch of SEO case studies to prove it.

Read the entire article here


Instagram Isn’t A “Safe Zone” During The #DeleteFacebook Campaign


A.K.A. Facebook people are Instagram people.

You’ve probably heard the news by now that Cambridge Analytica collected data from millions of Facebook users without their consent. This has a lot of people freaked out. How much does Facebook actually know about us? And what is it doing with our personal info?


Basically, people are pissed; so pissed that #DeleteFacebook started trending on Twitter. Even starman, Elon Musk, deleted Tesla and SpaceX Facebook pages out of protest. Surrounded by an immense amount of public pressure, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg began their apology press tour to ensure they will do better in the future. Sorry guys, this scandal can’t be pushed down the timeline just yet. Now people are looking more closely how Facebook and Google collect and use their data.

Is this new? Not exactly. Even before the Cambridge Analytica fallout we’ve known Facebook knows a lot about us. Why do you think that ad for Nike sandals appeared in your Facebook feed just shortly after you left the Nike site? (See more on “dark posts” here). By using all the stuff Facebook knows about you, it’s able to sell to advertisers to target you.

Soo… Why are we talking about Instagram?

First things first, Facebook owns Instagram. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t already know that. The Verge recently produced a survey that found 60% of people did not know that Facebook owns Instagram, so you’re not alone. And if you were part of the 40% that already knew, congrats! You’re ~~socially savvy.~~

Instagram advertising IS Facebook advertising, and Facebook advertising IS Instagram advertising. If you’re trying to run an ad through Instagram, you’re doing it through Facebook’s ad tool. So, what does that mean? Both Instagram and Facebook are sharing the data they collect about you with each other and advertisers.

So Instagram-only ads don’t exist?

Well, yes and no. There’s an option to have ads only run on Instagram, but you have to place them through Facebook ad manager. So yes, ads can be tailored to only show on Instagram, but it’s all being concocted in Facebook’s ad system.

Advertisers will find you, one way or another…

You can be targeted through your Facebook AND Instagram accounts. As far as advertising goes, they are one and the same. Advertisers will target your Instagram profile based off your Facebook, and vice versa. They can target your Facebook using info they aggregated from your Insta.

Jokes on you, I only use Instagram to show off my cat and her daily activities.

If you have a normal Facebook account, it doesn’t work like that. You’ll still see ads on Instagram based on the overall profile Facebook created about you, which is based on all the things it knows about you from both Facebook and Instagram. So you can post Miss Havisham’s daily brushing routine all you want. You’re still gonna get ads for that cosmetic line you liked on Facebook.

So wait, my likes and follows on both Facebook and Instagram are part of what’s targeting ads to me?

Yep. Likes, follows, searches, or even just browsing through Facebook and Instagram helps advertisers target you.

How does a brand use my Instagram activity to target me? What if I’m set to private?

Let’s start with an example. A new online boutique wants to target new potential customers. One way it can do that is by uploading a list of their already existing customer emails into Facebook ad manager. Then, Facebook can identify those people from their emails, and analyze is based on everything it knows about the. A new, similar group of potential customers is created, and that’s who the boutique should target with its ads. So your Instagram like gives just a small detail about you, they help advertisers target you.

And sorry to burst your private bubble, but they are still able to use your data to target you with ads. Going private on Instagram is only for how other users can see you. It has nothing to do with your data or ad targeting.

Should we start #DeleteInstagram?!?!

Up to you. If this was just too traumatizing and you want to give up the joy of Instagramming, then by all means, delete. But if you want to continue scrolling, posting, and filtering, here’s some tips on how to limit the data you give Facebook.

Apple Box Studios is a full-service advertising agency, so yes, that means we target people on Facebook to advertise for brands. Our social media manager just wanted to help explain some of the details about how Facebook and Instagram ad targeting works, and give normal social media users the information of protecting their timelines.


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What are Dark Posts on Social Media?

social media

We’re here to shine the light on dark posts

You’ve heard of the “dark web,” and all its scary content. But have you heard of the term “dark post” buzzing around your favorite social media blogs?

If not, we’re sorry to tell you that you may not be as socially savvy as you thought. But don’t worry, we’re here to turn the light on. So, what is a dark post? Poorly lit Instagram pictures? Selfies with your favorite villains?

social media

Not exactly. The truth behind a dark post is much more candid.

Targeted ads on social media are dark posts. If you didn’t know the meaning of term before, are you smacking the top of your head right now? But don’t confuse a targeted ad with boosted ads. Unlike promoted and organic posts, dark posts don’t appear on your timelines. They also won’t be in your feed of your followers.

Instead, they appear as sponsored content in the feeds of users you’re specifically targeting. Dark posts are not published the same way as organic posts. They are formally addressed on Facebook as unpublished posts.  They are not officially on your page. Effectually, the only exist for the targeted users that see them.

You might be puffing your chest out a little now because you think we are talking about dark social— sorry, still wrong. That’s actually totally unrelated.

Dark social refers to your website traffic pulled from social media, and isn’t picked up by analytics tools. Dark post, however, are simply social media ads that don’t show up on your timeline.

And although Facebook is, as per usual, the founding father of this concept, dark posts exist on all major social media platforms.

When advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn, you have the option to boost an organic post or create a dark post. By default, Snapchat and Instagram ads are considered dark posts.

So why should you come to dark side? Well as the Emperor told Anakin, ”The dark side of [posting on social media] is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be [really beneficial].”

It’s 2018, and with all the digital advertising solutions available today, you’re probably wondering if creating dark posts is even worth it.

You’re wondering stops here. Dark posts offer numerous advantages over traditional social media ads. We pulled three great reasons from this article to tell you why:

Precise Targeting

Traditional or “published” social media ads let you reach your target audience in a general awareness. For example, targeted posts on Facebook can reach users based off age, gender, or areas of interest.

A dark post is a whole new ball game of precision.  You can target users based on those same demographics, but now you can also target them with specific keywords like their exact job title.

At the end of the day, dark posts vs. boosted posts comes down to who sees what.

Dark posts allow you to focus different ads on different audiences, but you can also create custom ads for each targeted audience sector.

Imagine you’re a cosmetics brand. Traditional targeting can focus on 16-year-old high school girls in California or 25-year-old young professionals in New York.

A dark post lets you target both those groups with customized ads at the same time. And top it off, the high school teens and the young professionals each only see the ad that was specifically created for them.

It’s this kind of exact targeting that lets you reach precisely who you’re targeting, which then makes for a pretty great social media ROI.

Opens the options of testing

To really optimize your content both paid and organic, dark posts offers a plethora of testing options.

Your ad can appear differently to unlike users so that means you can use your dark posts to test which version of the ad gets more engagement, clicks, or conversions.

If you’re not aware of A/B testing, it’s an awesome way to improve your ads. Maybe you know this method as split testing instead. Either way, it allows you to present your consumers with two different versions of the ad to see which one outperforms the other.

Dark posts/unpublished posts on Facebook let you experiment with the image, headline, call-to-action button, or body copy of your ad. And then whichever one gets more engagement or conversion depending on what your KPIs are, you know which one is your front runner.

Help perfect other content

A/B or split testing helps optimize future dark posts based on the valuable feedback, and it can make your organic and boosted posts perform better too.

Being able to see which headline, image, or body copy is performing best for your dark post, you’re able to improve the posts that are actually showing up on your timeline.

For example: you want to publish a post to then boost it, but are unsure what headline to select to maximize clicks to your website.

You can set up two dark posts that are identical in every aspect except for the headline. Then, split test them against one another.

Two headlines walk in, one headline walks out. The headline with the higher CTR gets used as the published post. Now you can feel rest assured that you’re using the best possible version of your ad.

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