OMG! How To Empower PR With Happy Customers

January 25th, 2018

A customer emails your company. “OMG!” the customer writes before characterizing your product or service as perfection and proclaiming they’ll be back for more.

Make sure you treasure customers such as this for future sales. Don’t limit your success by only sending a simple thank you email. Here are six steps to begin to empower your public relations and social media efforts with this type of customer feedback.

  1. Show customers some love by sending “thank you” samples of your product or discounts on future service. This helps ensure people remain repeat customers in the future. Repeat customers are more likely to refer others. Sending samples also shows you care about customers’ feedback and offers your company a chance to chat with the customer.
  2. In a note with the samples or discount, ask customers to spread the word and Like your social media accounts.
  3. After customers receive your tokens of appreciation, someone should follow up and learn if opportunities exist for brand storytelling, part of PR and marketing. You can use authentic stories from customers for blogs and repurpose them for social media and the company newsletter.
  4. Should you immediately post positive comments from customers without using their last names on social media? You could but authenticity is important. We suggest first asking customers if posts may include their full names and towns. This way, posts might hold more weight with audiences. Also, if customers later follow the company’s social media accounts and see their own quotes, they might appreciate the fact that companies took the time and provided the courtesy of letting them know ahead of time about using their words.
  5. We recommend taking this slowly, one step at a time to avoid overwhelming customers like some car salespeople swoop in on prospective buyers entering their parking lots.
  6. Also, we suggest the same person keep in contact with customers to help build strong relationships. Too many points of contact can create confusion, conflicting messages and end up annoying.

The ways to move forward with happy customers are countless. But companies must recognize these types of opportunities and take steps to make the most of them. Your short-term response could evolve into a long-term, profitable customer relationship.

Have thoughts about this? Send us your feedback.

Step up your public relations and video production efforts with ideas from a former television reporter and corporate communications manager and the experts we interview. Sign up for our how-to blogs, which can teach you skills to increase your success.

Interview: Senior News Producer’s Story Pitching Tips

January 8th, 2018

TV news stations are focusing more on social media than on-air newscasts. So what’s your story’s social media component?

Denver Senior News Producer Greg Deffenbaugh, right, worked with The Flip Side Communications President Keith Yaskin, left, when Keith was an investigative reporter at the Fox Television station in Phoenix.

When Greg Deffenbaugh first entered the field of broadcast journalism a decade ago, television stations followed the traditional format of reporting the news of the day to viewers.

Today, the focus is on digital, with viewers’ opinions and concerns playing a major role, says the KDVR-TV senior news producer in Denver.

“It’s definitely changed in the past 10 years since I’ve gotten into the business,” Deffenbaugh says.

The typical newscast used to consist of two anchors who would sit at a desk and talk to a reporter. Now there’s more of an emphasis on how to tell the story differently, through a touch screen, using social media examples on a huge monitor or telling the story through a video.

“I was told once by a news director that they want to see it, say it, show it.”

One new trend with some stations, is allowing viewers to comment on stories as stations report them, with their comments scrolling on the screen during the newscast. Deffenbaugh says that owners of media companies feel that getting viewers involved in the newscast provides a way to increase interaction between the anchors and their audience.

One reason for this effort is that traditional newscasts don’t exist anymore, he said. If there’s breaking news, the station often goes live on Facebook rather than devote the whole newscast to that news. For instance, when there’s a big storm, the station will dedicate one newsroom member to cover the storm and that person will stay on Facebook for hours, flipping between live shots and talking to reporters. “There’s more of a focus on social media and our digital products than over the air.”

One reason for this is that social media allows a news team to report on a story nonstop without any commercial breaks. “It’s not just us telling information, it’s us having a conversation,” Deffenbaugh says. In the early days of social media, two or three staffers would post news stories online, but now the station has five team members dedicated to online coverage, and everyone in the newsroom, including producers, contribute to social media.

“There’s a whole strategy – not only posting stories, but engagement and telling stories differently, and being involved with the community. That plays a big part in knowing who your audience is.”

Win weather, win the day

Deffenbaugh credits weather as “a major key to our success.” The Denver station has six meteorologists on its staff, four of them are certified. In severe weather markets, viewers count on the station to report what their morning commute will be like, what to wear that day and how to keep their family safe when dangerous storms approach, he says. Research shows that viewers for local television stations tune in for weather reports, so Deffenbaugh explores new ways to tell the story differently than competing stations in the market. He works with his managers and team of meteorologists to give viewers the latest information and how it will impact them in the coming hours, all while focusing on making sure they keep a digital perspective in mind.

‘Not the same business’
The challenging part of the broadcast news industry is that it is always changing. Reporters in many markets are pitching stories, shooting those stories and also editing them. We call them multimedia journalists. “They can do everything, and they are a real asset to the newsroom,” Deffenbaugh says.

From a producing perspective, it can be challenging when utilizing multimedia journalists during breaking news. “They need to be able to go live, and most of the time they don’t have a photographer with them, so getting them the tools they need is always in the back of my head.”

This emphasis on social media and the changed definition of news has led many of his former co-workers from his first television markets to leave broadcast journalism, Deffenbaugh says. “It’s not the same business we went into.” When “you have a multimedia journalist background, you can use your skills to go into so many things.” Many have gone into public relations or started their own consulting firm or video production companies.

Part of this reason is also the grueling schedule, which often includes 10-hour days and being on call “basically all the time” even though there is an on-call schedule.

“I feel a lot of people don’t know what they are signing up for when they decide to go into broadcast television and many do move on because of the commitment does take. But at the same time, if you’re passionate about it like I am –  I live and breathe this stuff – you’re going to excel because there are so many people who say it’s not for me.”

-Leisah Woldoff

 

Broadcast journalism

Interview: Hotel Executive’s 5 Tips For B2C Success

January 8th, 2018

How big of a role does communications play in the relationship between a business and its consumers?

“Business-to-consumer communications are the foundation of all businesses and critically important to success,” says Aaron Greenman, Interstate Hotels & Resorts’ executive vice president of acquisitions and development for Europe. This is how businesses represent their offering and their value proposition, as well as convey their meaning to their customers.

Greenman is responsible for identifying, negotiating and managing all acquisitions and business development activity for Interstate Hotels & Resorts in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He joined Interstate in fall 2007 as head of development in India and in 2010, the company promoted him to senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Europe, working closely with his European colleagues to build on the company’s platform in the region.

When he started in that role, Interstate had 10 hotels throughout Europe and presence in several countries. During his tenure, Interstate has added approximately 100 management agreements in Europe, and today the company has nearly 80 hotels and over 12,000 rooms under management, in addition to 25 hotels in the pipeline, making Europe one of Interstate’s fastest growing regions.

Greenman, who is based in Brussels, Belgium, shares five tips about B2C (business to consumer) communications in this graphic:

Ensuring Video Graphics Stand Out One Word At A Time

December 28th, 2017

Video Production

Boring seminars rely too heavily on PowerPoint presentations. Worse seminars rely on PowerPoint presentations overburdened with words. Too much text also weighs down videos. The goal of your company’s video might be to educate a target audience, but the video’s messages should resemble crisp headlines instead of Wikipedia entries. Videos should drive captivated viewers to separate, in-depth content. Our experience shows organizations too often want to splash screens with lengthy, dull graphics that wear down the senses. With on-screen text and graphics, less is more.

Choose an application. We edit video with Avid Media Composer software. It includes tools to create titles. But we used the tools to create basic titles such as lower thirds, text overlaid on video to often identify someone’s name, title, company and location. We still edit with Media Composer but moved onto NewBlueFX, a plug-in for for building graphics. NewBlueFX allowed us to create more sophisticated graphics and make them in less time. We built cooler transitions and effects. Presets prevented us from starting each title from scratch. Then we switched to Adobe After Effects CC. This allows us to create animated titles and transitions similar to those we see in movies. For us, After Effects provides us the most options for our creativity. After Effects includes Cineware to create 3D titles. After Effects and Cineware may seem daunting for beginners, but watching YouTube tutorials will help kick off your creativity.

Video Production       

Shorten the message. Too often, graphics and titles in video need a thorough trimming. They should provide information in the form of short headlines. Graphics should help visually reinforce more in-depth key messages that a narrator or someone on camera is relaying. But the text on screen should not echo what listeners hear word for word with sweeping swaths of information.

Play the match game. It feels disjointed when a narrator or someone on camera says one thing and the words in the title don’t match. I infer this is the result of someone trying to squeeze too much information into their allotted time. Don’t force viewers to hear and read different messages. Remember titles and graphics are to reinforce messages, not to create confusion with an infusion of information.

Go big. I like big, bold words, which is another reason to limit the number of words in graphics. This forces viewers to hyper-focus on a key message. Create titles as big as possible without stretching beyond the “title-safe area” to prevent monitors from cutting off letters or words around a screen’s edges. Bigger graphics are easier to read on mobile devices, which many if not most people use to watch videos.

Go bright. Titles should pop on screen and bright-colored backgrounds are in. Drop the drop shadows (so old school) and try creating big, bold flat words in white against colors you normally associate with South Beach neon. Of course, your company abides by its brand standards, so choose the brightest available option and go for it! See the example below.

Video Production

Go beyond backgrounds. Graphics shouldn’t solely lay against colorful backgrounds. Titles should also float against corresponding video. Tight shots behind titles are best for mobile devices and help drive home a message. And while shooting video, think ahead. For example, shoot video of empty walls and in post-production, superimpose a graphic over the wall. Shoot video of a truck pulling a flatbed and use “tracking” effects in software such as After Effects to make it appear the words are sitting on the flatbed and moving along the screen as the truck pulls away. In the example below, I shot a bay door and then later superimposed a title over it. The title slid onto the screen in the same way someone would roll up the bay door.

Video Production

Transition. Simply dissolving graphics on screen one by one is no longer sufficient to create interest. Try sliding titles on screen from the top and sliding them off screen to the side. Add effects to make the graphics blur like Superman as they swoop on and off screen. In the example below, each line slides on screen at slightly different times and with blur.

Video Production

Add sound effects.  When titles zip on screen like Flash, I often add a subtle sound effect. This adds some pizazz. However when you’ve added so many sound effects that even you feel annoyed, you’ve gone overboard.

Break the rules. Like many of you, I’m a linear thinker when creating titles. Traditionally I create a sense of order by building graphics with words all the same size and sentences perfectly aligned center, left or right. But strictly abiding by such ideology is why companies fall behind the times and competition. I forced myself to break the rules and experiment with graphics that include words of different font sizes. And, much to my initial horror, I didn’t force myself to perfectly align all lines. This approach is not for everyone, but for those of us willing to go crazy now and then, ignoring traditional rules of alignment and font size helps separate you from everyone else and create some funky-looking titles that spark attention. See the example below.

Video Production

5 Tips To Stop Creating Boring Employee Training Videos

December 15th, 2017

 

As a former corporate employee, I remember receiving all-staff emails from the human resources director, explaining that we were required to watch a training video on our computers. I dreaded watching these videos. They included actors who attempted to use humor to remind us of important safety issues. The jokes and scripts were so hokey, employees focused more on the silliness than the substance. To avoid wasting time, some co-workers outmaneuvered the system and fast-forwarded to where we acknowledged watching the videos. The company had our digital signature of acknowledgement, but had we actually learned anything to ensure a safer workplace?

Workplace rules and safety are serious, but there is still space for some fun and creativity. Here are five ways we build better employee training videos to ensure businesses genuinely accomplish their objectives:

Create a kick-ass opening montage. Don’t open training videos with simply your organization’s logo fading up from black. Spark attention by editing a fast-paced opening montage. For branding and consistency, start each video with the same rock ‘n roll approach. Include quick, tight shots of actual employees at work. (Do not substitute stock video.) Raise audio levels to bring the scenes to life. Create bold, short graphics that zoom or slide onto the screen to display and reinforce your company’s core values. Add quick transitions that infuse your company’s colors. Using those same branded colors, don’t fear filling some shots with eye-grabbing filters.

Develop a dramatic topic title. After the eye-popping montage, clearly identify the video’s topic. We use Maxon’s Cinema 4D software to build large titles with dimension. The title instills the company’s primary branding color, reflecting simulated light and casting subtle shadows. Aligned with a subtle sound effect, the organization’s logo then slides swiftly across the bottom of the screen. The logo’s size does not dominate the scene, but it’s big enough to emphasize this is a branded video and that the business built it specifically for its employees.

Interview real, frontline employees. Employees have told us they appreciate learning from and seeing their peers in training videos instead of watching executives who spend most of their time behind desks while choosing each word with robotic precision. Actors often look too polished and not believable. Employees may not speak with perfect eloquence, but that’s OK. That’s genuine. And good audio editing can clean up issues that might prove too distracting. For on-camera work, the key is choosing employees wisely. Too often, due to a lack of time and planning, organizations select whichever employees happen to be available at a given time. Businesses should send their most passionate and knowledgeable employees to the plate instead of simply someone off the bench who volunteers because no one else steps forward.

 

Conduct active interviews. If employees work in a shop with tools and many moving parts, don’t conduct interviews with people sitting in a seat in a boring conference room. Include a related background and environment. And get interviewees to show and tell instead of always standing up straight without much movement. Those on camera should demonstrate safety procedures while speaking. They should show us where to find safety equipment. They should show us how safety devices work. This type of interview creates a true learning experience. Employees will understand key concepts much more by seeing them instead of only hearing about them.

Buy some rockin’ music. While working around employees in a shop, we frequently heard employees listening to 1980s classic rock on radios at their workbenches. We buy royalty-free music from websites such as www.pond5.com and avoid tracks with the word “corporate” included in the title. Instead, our keyword search might include “80s rock.” Corporate videos are not required to include corporate music. That is old-school thinking. Employees have provided us unsolicited feedback praising the background music. That might sound superficial to an executive who argues a safety video should not stray from the highest level of seriousness. But key training messages will bounce off brick walls unheard if a business does not take even the smallest steps to grab employees’ attention. The music should not be distracting. But it should help draw in viewers.

One of the first times we attempted to implement some of the above ideas for employee training videos, we heard someone say there’s no “fun” in safety. But what’s the point in teaching important lessons if everyone in the audience is staring at their smartphones or at the clocks on the walls? If your creative ideas meet resistance, try earning buy-in one concept at a time. One of the most important aspects of video is understanding what works for your audience instead of focusing primarily on how the person in the corner office wants it to work.

Building Brand Loyalty With Bowling, Yoga And Free Pie

December 4th, 2017

Two days before Thanksgiving, The Wehner Group at RE/MAX Fine Properties, a Scottsdale real estate firm, handed out free pies to clients to thank them for referrals and business over the past year. This gratitude event also included food, children’s activities and photos with a Rock n’ Roll Santa.

The Wehner Group

This annual gratitude event is not the only time the company expresses its thanks to clients. Since 2015, the company has hosted numerous appreciation events throughout the year.

Jennifer Wehner, who launched her real estate career in 2003, leads The Wehner Group, a team that has grown to 12 people who have over 70 years of experience helping buyers, sellers and investors achieve their real estate goals. These events are “a way to give back to our clients,” she said. Clients are trusting the team with what can be the biggest investment of their life and “they also trust us with referrals to their family and friends.”

Last year, the Wehner Group added a community service component to their events, with raising money for the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home. At the gratitude event, the home requested baking ingredients to use for baking with the children, which clients donated at the event.

Since introducing these events, their referrals have doubled each year, Wehner said. The group has also been “in hypergrowth mode.” Last year, the group was at $40 million worth of volume and expects to close 2017 with over $77 million, she said. Twenty percent of this is from referrals.

Wehner spoke to The Flip Side Communications to share some tips to help companies build brand loyalty:

  1. Stay in front of the consumer. In addition to hosting events, The Wehner Group is active on social media and uses direct mail and phone calls to remain on their clients’ minds. Recent social media posts have included open house listings, photos of homes for sale and examples of the steps they’ve taken to help clients sell their homes.
  2. Continue to learn and grow. “Our goal is not to just do these nice things (such as host special events), but as people are buying a home, providing the best customer service experience that we possibly can.” She recommends learning about the foundation of customer service by reading books like “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles.
  3. Give back. Hosting events are a way to give back to clients and to express gratitude for their support. Their events have included golfing at Top Golf, bowling at Dave & Busters and happy hours. In January, they will have a yoga event at a park for those clients who want to exercise. Timing is important – “in Arizona, movies work best in the summer” – and they learned to avoid scheduling events near Christmas because people’s schedules are already so full at that time.
  4. Get feedback. The Wehner Group often sends out surveys to see how they can improve. They also encourage clients to submit testimonials to Zillow, a real estate website. Outside of the real estate industry, Wehner encourages businesses to use Yelp.com.
  5. Have a solid business plan. “It all comes down to having a solid business plan,” Wehner says. “No matter how you are going to build your brand loyalty, it needs to be in a written business plan that you consistently review every week or every month at the bare minimum.”

-Leisah Woldoff

How Companies Can Jump To Help Communities

November 23rd, 2017
Altitude Trampoline Park

Altitude Trampoline Park in Phoenix offers an opportunity for businesses to play dodge ball as a team-building exercise. Photo courtesy of Altitude Trampoline Park

During this week of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d share something that we are thankful for: businesses that give back to their communities.

Whether it is large companies or small businesses, we appreciate all those whose efforts make our community a better place to live.

In this post, we are profiling a business that opened just six months ago but has already committed itself to giving back.

After learning about the devastation that hit Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, the owners of Altitude Trampoline Park in Phoenix decided to hold a fundraiser to help those affected.  

On Oct. 8, the trampoline park hosted a two-hour fundraiser, which included a week-long silent auction with items and gift certificates that co-owner Joe Berman collected from nearby businesses. Altitude donated 20 percent of proceeds from the cost of jump passes to the fundraiser and, along with the silent auction, raised more than $1,200 to donate to Red Cross relief efforts.

Over a period of a week and a half, the park also collected “boxes and boxes and boxes and bags and bags” of clothing, toiletries, dried food and other items to send to Puerto Rico, Berman said.

Altitude Trampoline Park, which opened this past June, is also focusing on how to help local schools. So when Berman heard that a local school needed some assistance, he jumped in to help.

A K-12 school for high functioning students with an autism spectrum disorder needed to raise funds for an adaptive playground designed to meet the students’ sensory needs. So Berman scheduled a fundraiser on Nov. 2, with Altitude donating $5 for every $20 that was spent. In addition, the trampoline park continues to raise funds for the school during special needs jumping sessions, which are held 10-11 a.m. on the first Sunday of each month and 10-11 a.m. on the last Wednesday of the month. During these hours, the lights are kept low and quieter music is played than at regular times.

Berman has also introduced a reading program called Bouncing Books, which recently launched as a pilot program with a local elementary school. Berman works with school librarians or administrators to award students with a free Icee and jump pass after they read a certain number of books.

Altitude also does fundraisers for schools, religious institutions and organizations. “Anyone who wants to make money while having fun,” Berman said companies have also held team-building activities there, such as an hour of dodge ball during the workday or after an evening meeting. 

“I really care about our community,” Berman said. He appreciates that as a business owner, he has a platform like this where he “can really help make a difference.”

Ways businesses can give back to their communities

Inc.com shares 10 other ways that businesses can give back to their community:

  1. Promote local businesses.
  2. Participate in holiday food drives.
  3. Sponsor a youth sports team.
  4. Set up a collection jar.
  5. Hold a contest.
  6. Sponsor an event.
  7. Adopt a brick.
  8. Build a house.
  9. Offer your skills.
  10. Encourage employee volunteerism. 

– Leisah Woldoff

Crisis Communications: How You Can Learn From Airport Bed Bugs

November 4th, 2017


The Phoenix Business Journal reported Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport removed padded benches on Halloween after a complaint of a potential bed bug infestation. According to the news story, a pest control company treated the furniture Oct. 7.

In this case, bed bugs are not a crushing crisis. But don’t simply brush aside stories such as this. Most organizations likely do not expect to encounter a problem with bed bugs and for the news media to publicly report such a story. But most companies do not anticipate unfavorable news coverage. Most companies struggle to make an abrupt U-turn from promoting themselves to explaining themselves when a problem pops up. How do you prepare for a crisis you can’t see coming and that threatens the trust between you and your customers?

Prepare a plan. If bed bugs aren’t likely to attack your business, then determine what kind of crisis would more likely eat away at your organization one day. Then practice how you handle the hypothetical crisis. Not practicing or preparing is the equivalent of driving without insurance.

Delegate responsibilities. If a crisis strikes, who will stand in the spotlight and communicate with news media? Who will monitor social media and quickly respond to posts? Who will communicate with employees, who might be receiving misinformation about the situation and sharing it with friends and family? Who will talk with key stakeholders? Who will discuss your response with your attorney, who may disagree with your proposed public statement?

Respond like a human.  Ensure your written response or on-camera interview displays empathy and shows understanding of why the crisis is concerning. Choose a spokesperson with an engaging personality and someone who knows how to communicate without industry lingo. Don’t speak as if you are from another planet. 

Don’t go negative.  Don’t tell the media, “It must be a slow news day.” Don’t accuse them of sensationalism or fake news. Don’t start attacking the story itself. Don’t get sarcastic. Keep your eyes on the facts as you know them. Offer your side of the story. Use the opportunity to show your expertise.

These are only a few recommendations to prevent a crisis from biting your business too deeply. For more suggestions, read “Crisis Communications:  How To Handle The Words ‘Go F-Yourself.'” That’s biting language.

Crisis Communications: How To Handle The Words “Go F-Yourself”

November 2nd, 2017

Media Training and Crisis Communications

Azcentral reported that the Maricopa County recorder apologized for telling a voter on Facebook to “go F-yourself” after the voter criticized the county’s ballot materials.

If people are criticizing you publicly, how can you avoid telling them to “go F-yourself”? Maybe you prefer “eat s—t” or stop being an “a——.” And if you utter those words, what then?  Tip one:  Avoid foul language. Then follow these recommendations.

Take conversations offline. When social media criticism tempts you to write “go F-yourself,” gracefully give the person a phone number or email address to further discuss the situation. Don’t delete the criticism. Be bold enough to thank someone for their feedback. Calm down, plan out your thoughts, decide whom should respond and address the criticism with the person directly without the public glare of social media. Also, know your regular social media followers well enough to understand when a comment is not worth a response. 

Respond rapidly. If a crisis erupts, get your side of the story out there quickly. Be timely. Don’t wait. Don’t hide. Don’t say, “No comment.” Don’t misleadingly claim that someone took your statements out of context or that you assumed you were off-the-record. 

Choose where to officially respond. Will you respond during a news conference, during a one-on-one interview, in a news release, as part of a blog or on social media? Where will your target audiences most likely go to receive information about you and your organization? If you respond on Facebook Live, don’t say, “Are we live?” If reporters request a follow-up interview, will you display the courage to take questions?

Address the issue directly. Don’t mimic politicians who flood the airwaves with words but never actually answer the question. Don’t be vague. Don’t awkwardly change the subject.

Decide if and how to apologize. PR professionals may urge you to apologize. Your attorney may raise concerns about stating, “I’m sorry.” Will you directly apologize to someone or apologize in general? If you apologize, will you sound genuine? Speak from the heart instead of from notes.

Educate. Is your response an opportunity to educate the public and employees about the topic? 

Monitor responses afterward. Don’t stay secluded in a bubble where yes-men shower you with accolades. Is the crisis continuing? How many people still call for your resignation? How many people continue to characterize you as a clown? Or are people thanking you for taking responsibility?

Create a plan. Don’t wait for someone in your C-suite to tell someone to “go F-themselves” to build a plan and team to handle a crisis. Take action now!

If you don’t like these recommendations, you can go …  find additional ideas elsewhere. We welcome your suggestions.

 

Creating Dramatic Halloween Makeup Transformations

October 30th, 2017

For most of the year, Tamara Bickley, founder of Makeup Artistry by Tamara, enhances the beauty of her clients with makeup for weddings and other special events. But in the days leading to Halloween, her work has much different results, which can sometimes be horrifying.

She’s made herself up for Halloween for about eight years and after she started her business in 2012, she started doing Halloween makeup professionally. She receives most of her Halloween-based clients from social media:  “I will do up my face and put it out there on social media to show people the diversity of what I can do.”

She said she only uses herself as the model for examples of her Halloween makeup, not for her glamour or other make-up work. To demonstrate her general make-up artistry, she uses before and after photos of her clients. “I like to do that so people can see the difference in how I can enhance one’s beauty.” But when it comes to Halloween makeup, she’ll use herself as an example “so people can see how I can take what I look like and I can change it and make myself look completely different in so many ways.”

Plus, she can make herself up at the spur of the moment whenever she wants to try a new look. Her Halloween make-up ranges from Day of the Dead artwork with colorful designs to animal faces to characters with rotting flesh.

“My real passion is special effects,” she said. “I would love to do makeup for films, but there’s really not that much out here in Phoenix.”

She recently made herself up as a lion and then picked up her kids from school in full makeup. She shot video of their reactions. “My children were horrified,” she said. “They did not think it was cool. They were not impressed because they’re used to me doing crazy makeup around Halloween time.

“I think deep down they think it’s cool, but two of them are teenagers so they have to pretend it’s not cool.”

As embarrassed as they act, though, they don’t hesitate to ask her to do their makeup when they want to dress up, she notes.

She only uses safe, high-grade makeup on her clients, often the type that is used on movie sets. “It’s not going to clog your pores or give you a rash.”

Most of the makeup purchased in Halloween stores isn’t good for your skin, she said. “You have to be careful when you’re doing your own makeup – to use products that are higher-grade, especially when you’re putting it on kids.”

Although it can take up to two hours to create a unique Halloween look, depending on how intricate the design, it only takes her about five minutes to remove the makeup:  “The Makeup Eraser takes off all of it,” she said.

Tamara Bickley has also created her own makeup line, Tami B Custom Makeup. The custom foundation uses ingredients that are vegan and chemical-free and includes a consultation and color-match session. For more information, visit her website, tamaramakeupart.com.

– Leisah Woldoff