WHAT OUR INTERNS WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE ENTERING THE PROFESSIONAL WORLD

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By: Elizabeth, Bethany, & Victoria, Summer Interns 2018

During our last week with KC Projects PR, we were asked to list the things we wish I would have known before entering the professional world. Applying for internships, and moving into the business world from the college lifestyle is hard so here is our list of things to help students feel more prepared. 

  • Try to always make your mornings count. Although it may be tempting to lay in bed until last minute, get up and exercise, make breakfast, drink coffee, or do whatever gets you prepared for the day. You will be much more energized and prepared to take on the day.

  • Start transitioning your wardrobe weeks/months in advance from college attire to professional dress. It can be overwhelming to try and buy an entire professional wardrobe in a short period of time, Next time you are out shopping, keep an eye out for work appropriate clothing and start picking up a few items here and there. That way, you have one less thing to stress over when your graduate and/or get your first internship.

  • Start building your resume early. Start developing your resume as soon as you enter college so by the time you are graduating you will have a fully developed resume that you are proud to send out. You will thank yourself later!

  • If you don’t know how to send an professional email, learn now. This is something you should have under your belt before you begin applying for job interviews, internships, etc. You will email constantly and it’s important to be professional while doing so.

  • Building relationships with employers is so important. Always remain professional and never skip an event/opportunity to meet with an employer.

  • Develop and practice your elevator pitch, Identify strengths and weaknesses, have an interesting fun fact about yourself that stands out. 

  • Surround yourself with people of similar goals and work ethic. 

  • Join clubs in your major. Go to club meetings and interact with other students/teachers in your major. This is a great and easy way to make connections that could potentially end in an interview/internship/job. 

  • It’s said all the time, but after graduating college (or before applying for internships) it is so important to do a social media purge. Things that college aged kids post on their social media accounts don’t always translate well with future employers and most adults. Making albums private on Facebook is a thing, use it! 

  • For college students there are FREE resources on campus that will help you with a resume and cover letter. This is the last time you might have the opportunity to have free professional help on two things that are so important to your career. It would be insane not to take advantage of this opportunity. 

  • Before accepting your first job know that you can negotiate your salary, and should ask about insurance and benefits before accepting a job. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

SOCIAL RECRUITING

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By: Brailyn Hardy, PR + Digital Brand Manager

Social recruiting is now a "thing" when it comes to hiring job candidates. In 2017,70%of employers snooped potential candidates’ social media profiles according to CareerBuilder.com. That’s not to say employers are searching social media for ALL bad reasons, some are searching for the right reasons too. 

For example, if you are applying for a position in PR and social media, shouldn’t we be checking to see if the candidate is an active user? Here are the top reasons employers are “social recruiting” from CareerBuilder.com: 

  • Information that supports their qualifications for the job (61%)

  • If the candidate has a professional online persona at all (50%)

  • What other people are posting about the candidates (37%)

  • For any reason at all not to hire a candidate (24%)

Aside from social media, 69%are using online search engines like Google to research candidates and see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally. 

Here are the top reasons why employers chose not to hire a candidate based on social media:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or videos information

  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs

  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion

  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee

  • Candidate lied about qualifications

  • Candidate had poor communication skills

  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior

  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employers

  • Candidate's screen name was unprofessional

  • Candidate lied about an absence

  • Candidate posted too frequently

Scrolling through your photos from this past weekend and laughing at the debauchery of your charades? Pause before you post because it could prevent you from scoring your dream job. 

 

HOW TO GET MEDIA COVERAGE (WHEN YOU CANNOT HIRE A PR FIRM)

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By: Krista Conlin Robinson, President / Founder

Announcing a new business, sharing the news of a big idea and gaining exposure for a brand are all tasks public relations firms handle every day. As publicists, we know the importance of getting featured by the media. Shoot, highlighting clients is what we ‘sell’ every day. The benefits of media coverage in a high-profile news article or local outlets - print or online - can be a massive benefit for a brand. 

A few of the benefits in gaining media exposure include:

Brand visibility and reputation– Increasing range of visibility and positioning as a “thought leader” within one’s industry

Partner Interest– Attracting likeminded interested parties, vendors and investors for future collaboration potential

User Acquisition– Attracting more followers, customers and people to your services, website and social media accounts

Recruitment – Businesses depend on successful teams, and positive media exposure may help you attract talent to your business

If you don’t have the budget to hire a public relations firm, then use the following tactics to exposure for your business:

1.    Submit a press release. 

Press releases are still the fastest (and sometimes easiest) way to get the media’s attention. First, you must identify a newsworthy event or message pertaining to your brand. What makes what you are doing interesting? If you are a startup then talk about the launch; otherwise, address major milestones or a big event coming up for your company. In addition to gaining exposure, press releases can have a positive impact on your brand search results, thus helping with online reputation management.

2.    Reach out to specific journalists.

Target individual journalist that write on topics similar to your business. This relationship can be good for more in-depth pieces, features, and developing relationships for ongoing company announcements.

3.    Get involved locally.

Keep an eye out for local events that will attract the media and get your company involved. For example, volunteer in charity events, sponsor community events or sign up to speak at an industry event or convention. You could even host your own local events to generate even more focus for your brand.

4.    News-jack existing hot topics.

So what is “newsjacking”? This is when you take advantage of the popularity of a previously existing story for your own benefit. This type of move allows you to provide expert opinion pieces and to jump on the bandwagon of interesting and highly engaged topics.

5.    Stand out with a strong social media campaign

It is no surprise that many media publications and journalists look to social media as a source of inspiration, so if you can stand out online you’ll have a far higher likelihood of being featured in print. To make this happen, publish (strong and engaging) content regularly. Build a loyal following, position your brand as a leader and don’t ever forget the value of good images when posting. 

These five strategies are a good start to getting featured by the media. Remember to keep your brand visible and involved, and push interesting, engaging, newsworthy content. The time you put into building your exposure now is well worth the investment later. 

IHOP --> IHOB --> IHOP?

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Lessons communications professionals should take away from IHOP’s name change campaign.

By: Bethany Pappas, Summer 2018 Intern 

At the beginning of June, IHOP made a huge and surprising announcement: it was changing it’s name to ‘IHOb.’ The announcement resulted in an outpour of media attention and left thousands across social media and news outlets guessing what the “b” stood for. After nine long days of speculation, IHOb released a statement that the “b” stood for burgers, which are now part of the regular menu.

Opinions on a pancake house selling burgers aside, ‘IHOb’ certainly raised the awareness it needed to with this campaign. Let’s take a look at the important lessons all communications professionals should take away from the ‘IHOb’ campaign. 

1.     It’s import to promote your campaign across multiple media channels

IHOP first announced the name change campaign with some mysterious posts to it’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. In addition to the original announcements across it’s social media platforms, the company renamed it’s verified Twitter account @IHOb and purchased the domain name ihob.com. The company also released a commercial to encourage social media users to make their guesses before the new name was revealed.  Shortly after these media changes and announcements, multiple restaurant locations changed their signs from a “p” to a “b.” Although these were physical changes, customers were quick to snap photos and post them online which only fueled the social media uproar. 

2.     Engage your audience—give them a powerful voice

As part of it’s campaign strategy, IHOP’s social media team immediately started interacting with the thousands of confused individuals online. The team actually turned the campaign into a guessing game by posting multiple prompts asking social media users what they thought the “b” stood for. By letting it’s audience do most of the talking, IHOP transformed an announcement into a space of user creativity and therefore active engagement. With at least 30,000 replies in the first 24 hours of the announcement, you could say the interactive campaign strategy was a success. 

3.     Always have a backup plan

 Unknown to the average social media user, the name change is only temporary. The heading of IHOP’s initial press release reads, “IHOP® CHANGES NAME TO IHOb℠.” As you can see, the company uses “SM,” which is a service mark. The use of a service mark instead of a brand name itself ensures the change is not permanent. In addition, although the company did purchase the domain name ihob.com, IHOP.com remains the companies official website. These relatively unknown aspects of the campaign are incredibly smart on the company’s part because they ensure an escape route. 

Big risks can equal big rewards.

To celebrate the brand’s 60thbirthday, IHOP officially confirmed the name change is not permanent after all. In another genius marketing technique, IHOP uncoincidentally dropped this admission while simultaneously promoting it’s 60 cent short stack birthday promotion. In the tweet confirming the name change as a marketing stunt, the brand actually said “That’s right, IHOP! We’d never turn our back on pancakes (except for that time we faked it to promote our new burgers),” meaning all the fuss was over a marketing stunt, and a powerful one at that.

In addition to IHOP’s admission across twitter and other social media channels, Darren Rebelez, president of IHOP, confirmed the change was only temporary. The point of the campaign was to get people talking and draw attention to the company, and IHOP knew exactly how to do that. Rebelez also added, “But we want to convey that we are taking our burgers as seriously as our pancakes” and with a campaign as shocking as this one, I think we can all agree there is no doubt about that. 

 

 

 

CISON'S VISION

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By: Elizabeth Summers, Summer Intern 2018

Cision, a software utilized by public relations professionals to easily detect key influencers, communicate strategic content and measure impressions, has announced a new feature. Cision, known for a collection of lifesaving features, has exceeded standards once again with their new Social Influencer Discovery Tool. 

What is Cision?

Cision is an online program that allows due-paying members to distribute press releases to a customized list of journalists and bloggers compiled in a database. Members can filter media contacts by keyword, job role, contact location, outlet location and more. Once contacts are filtered and media lists are composed, press releases are disseminated. Cision reports analytics that measure earned media coverage and campaign success. Translated analytics can produce insight for communicators to determine the effectiveness of a message or strategy. 

What is a Social Media Influencer?

A social media influencer is an individual that uses social media platforms to establish credibility in a certain field. With the increased popularity and fast progression of social media, social media influencers have gained considerable dominance. Influencers generally have many followers which can directly correlate with power. 

The New Social Influencer Discovery Tool: Why do we need it?

A common obstacle among the public relations field is the uneven ratio of journalists versus public relations professionals. It increases competition greatly and makes it difficult for professionals to receive coverage, hence the conception of Cision’s new Social Influencer Tool. 

Cision’s breakthrough feature recreated the way public relations professionals distribute information. Cision is the only platform allowing individuals to identify and target social media influencers and traditional media contacts simultaneously. This feature significantly expands the audience reach of campaigns due to social media influencers’ impact on their followers through social networking. 

Additionally, aligning campaign marketing points with a specific social influencer is simple yet yields success. For example, a press release featuring a new protein shake would interest a fitness blogger. If the blogger is intrigued, they can disseminate information to their trusting followers and expand the reach of the campaign significantly. 

Social media has developed and warped all aspects of public relations. It has opened a whole realm of digital branding and marketing, creating a hole between traditional public relations and digital public relations. With this new feature, Cision has created a way to incorporate traditional and digital public relations effortlessly. 

NEW CLIENT FEATURE: FUELFOX

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ABOUT FUELFOX: 

Your Fuel. Delivered. 

FuelFox is an app-based onsite fuel-delivery service providing a safer, cleaner and more efficient way to fill up personal vehicles and commercial fleets. Gas stations are a problem in this country that has not been addressed since the first gas station opened in 1913.  They waste time, are inconvenient, unsafe, unclean, and unhealthy.  FuelFox is the solution. 

FuelFox was founded in the summer of 2018 by Alabama native Ben Morris who believes that there is a better way of filling-up. FuelFox gives its members the one thing that we all need more of, and that is time. Time is truly the only scarce commodity, so we should use our time wisely.

Through the FuelFox app, users can quickly become registered members of FuelFox. Once registered, members easily schedule future gas tank fill-ups with FuelFox. In addition to filling-up the vehicle, FuelFox drivers (better known as “Ambassadors”) also clean front windshields, check tire treads, gauge tire pressure and notify the member of any potential issues with their vehicle.  FuelFox offers the amenities of a full-service gas station at self-service pricing.  

FuelFox also offers fuel delivery to commercial fleets during the day, evening, or weekend hours to reduce expenses and increase productivity. Benefits of the service include: recouping a significant number of labor hours each month, eliminating fleet downtime, minimizing vehicle wear, reducing risk of theft or improper fueling, and providing detailed tracking of fuel consumption and expense.  

Safety is of the highest importance within the FuelFox culture. FuelFox drivers (better known as Ambassadors) are  firefighters who have extensive training in hazardous materials.  FuelFox is an adequately insured, safe, and licensed fuel retailer meeting all EPA, DOT, fire and air quality requirements.

So FuelFox wants to know: How much is your time worth?

Go to FuelFox.net to sign up to become one of the first to know when FuelFox is available in your area. Also follow FuelFox on social media to receive updates on the launch!

WHAT IS A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER AND HOW DO THEY HELP YOUR BRAND?

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By: Victoria Morris, Summer 2018 Intern

What does it mean to be influential & how do you become influential?

If you are affecting people’s decisions, you are an influencer. This power is usually created by authority, knowledge, position, or relationship. Typically, after becoming active with a particular niche, the influence becomes stronger and more credible. 

What are social media influencers?

In 2017 81% of the United States population had a social media profile. Social media influencers use social media through the credibility they have established in a specific industry. Influencers use their social media platforms to create content based off of a particular niche that they have built knowledge or expertise in. In other words, social media influencers are recognized as credible sources. For this reason, they generate a large following on their social network. 

Who are social media influencers?

Social media influencers fall into three main categories: celebrities, industry experts, and bloggers. 

Celebrities are obviously social media influencers due to their popularity. Being well known automatically generates a large number of followers. 

Industry experts and thought leaders have gained respect because of their qualifications, position, or experience. A lot of their influence comes from the reputation of their workplace. 

Journalists are popular industry expert influencers. 

Bloggers develop followers from a particular niche that they share a similar interest in. They create their power of influence through authentic and active relationships. Bloggers are typically more of your everyday people. This relatability generates respect and trust from their audience(s). 

Note: To be an influencer, an individual doesn’t always need to reach a large audience, sometimes reaching a small niche audience can be just as valuable.

Why should brands use social media influencers?

Brands are always looking for ways to influence their consumers. According to The Telegraphthe average American spends almost two hours scanning carious social media platforms. So, why would brands not grab hold of this opportunity? By using social media influencers, a brand creates a quick and cost effective approach to reaching a wide audience. The use of social media influencers also builds trust between consumers and the brand, eliminates ad blockers, and often is the only way to reach particular demographics such as: millennials and Generation Z. 

How can brands use social media influencers?

Once brands realize social media influencers are the way to go, they can start taking steps towards growing their online audience. Two strong directions would be: quest posting and sponsored posts. 

Guest posting is writing or publishing work on someone else’s social media platform. This strategy helps build relationships, can function as a search engine, and it introduces new people to your brand. 

Another way brands can utilize influencers is with sponsored posts. Brands can utilize advertising dollars to sponsor a post featuring an influencer. By using an influencer’s clout, a brand can maximize reach, increase effectiveness, and lend credibility to their products. 

Get on board!

Social media has taken over. Brands have no choice but to reach audiences through iPhone and computer screens. All it takes is for Selena Gomez to post a picture on Instagram wearing your shoes, compliment them, tag the company, and BAM sales rise. Social media is how the world keeps up with its surroundings: places to go, foods to eat, clothes to wear. It has a unique way of triggering our memories. So, when we go to purchase your next meal, we think about our best friend’s cousin’s food post from last Tuesday. In other words, social media platforms do the work FOR us! Grab a social media influencer, sit back, and watch your audience grow. 

5 SOCIAL MEDIA THINGS WE ARE LOVING THIS WEEK

By: Bethany Pappas, Summer 2018 Intern 

The popularity of social media has had a huge impact on the marketing and PR world. Since its origin, social media has quickly become one of the most popular PR techniques for businesses across the board. Maintaining a positive image on social media is not only critical for success, but it can also be a fun way to showcase brand creativity. One of the greatest marketing aspects of social media is that it is constantly updating and evolving. Here are some PR and Social Media things we are loving this week! First let’s begin with my personal favorite, Instagram. 

1.     You can now add hashtags and profile links to your Instagram profile

This is one of Instagram’s newest and most overdue features. Clickable links were already available in Instagram bios, but as of late March, users can also include live links to other Instagram profiles in their bios. Adding an @ sign in your bio allows your followers to get to other profiles you associate with quickly and easily. When you mention another account in your profile, they receive a notification and can choose to remove or accept the link from your profile to theirs. In addition, users can also add functioning hashtags in their bios. Including a hashtag in your Instagram bio allows users to be connected to a hashtag page which contains other posts that include that same hashtag. Branded hashtags are a big PR tool over social media, and Instagram just created a way to expand on this! 

2.     Instagram is reportedly developing a Data Portability Tool

The Data Portability tool that Instagram is reportedly developing will allow users to download the content they have previously uploaded onto Instagram. This content includes pictures, videos, and possibly direct messages. The reported development of a Data Portability Tool is more or less related to staying compliant with the upcoming European GDPR privacy law, which requires data portability. Data portability allows users to download their content and potentially upload it on another form of social media. This is a great addition to Instagram because unlike Facebook, Instagram users were unable to save or download images off of any profiles—including their own. This addition is sure to help even the playing field and give Instagram users more control over their content.

3.     You can broadcast live with a guest on Instagram

Instagram took their live broadcast feature up a notch by allowing users and brands the ability to broadcast live with a guest. Using a split screen format, this can be a fun feature for friends or a strategic branding technique for businesses. This is a great feature for brands because they can invite business partners or even social media influencers to co-host a live broadcast session. Incorporating other brands or influencers can help generate a large amount of attention. In addition, if a broadcast achieves a significant following, it can show up on Instagram’s Explore tab and receive more press. In a world of increasing video content, Instagram created the perfect touch!

4.     Instagram voting poll update

At first, Instagram’s addition of stories got some mixed emotions for “copying snapchat,” but let’s be honest—now we’re obsessed. Although Instagram wasn’t the first to come up with a story, they were the first to feature voting polls on their stories. Poll voting through Instagram stories is a game changer because it allows companies to interact with their followers and get direct feedback from them. Just recently, Instagram updated this feature even further and released the emoji slider poll. This new feature lets users answer questions by sliding an emoji based on their agreement or disagreement with your statement. The addition of an emoji allows users to add more detail to the tone of the question, and the option to slide the emoji to an individual desired length allows for a wider and more personalized range of responses. 

5.     Facebook Watch

Facebook might be older than Instagram, but that doesn’t mean it can’t keep up.Creating a video strategy is an important part of maintaining relevance in the social media world. Video content in any form has become tremendously popular over the last few years. For example, YouTube has become one of the most popular forms of social media for the younger generation due to the new trend of vlogging, AKA video blogging. Facebook recognized the growing trend of video content, and in response created Facebook Watch. Watch is a platform for watching TV-like shows via Facebook. Users will see shows based on their interests and what their friends are watching, thanks to highlights like “Most Talked About.” Watch is a great addition to Facebook because it gives users the content they are most interested in, and it allows brands to target and therefore increase viewers based on their interests. 

 

5 INTERVIEW MISTAKES YOU MIGHT BE MAKING

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By: Elizabeth Summers, Summer 2018 Summer Intern

Interviewing is a cornerstone of the job search process— from interview etiquette to researching the company beforehand, interviews have the power to make or break your potential job offer. Although an interview opportunity indicates an employer’s interest, it is not a time for you to let your guard down—  it is an imperative moment to prove your worth. 

Statistics suggest 33 percent of employers know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether or not they are going to hire you. Let’s review some common interview mistakes to help you impress the hiring manager and nail your interview. 

1.   Neglecting to research the company

It is essential to research a company before interviewing for a position with them. Being aware of a company’s culture, values, mission and business allows you to more genuinely express how your skills will serve as an asset to them. You are most likely competing against a group of candidates, so be knowledgeable on the company’s recent news and activities to generate an interactive conversation to help you stand out from the rest of the candidates. To promote authentic conversation, you need to be able to competently discuss the company’s business. Plus, research will help you feel prepared for your interview, thus will calm your pre-interview nerves. 

2.   Failing to prepare an elevator pitch

Every interview you have will be unique, but all guaranteed similar in one way—the inevitable elevator pitch delivery. This question, also known as the “tell me about yourself” question, can be a make-or-break component of your interview. This is a chance, and possibly your only chance, to point the conversation in any direction you want. A common misconception is that you will be able to wing an elevator pitch. In reality, your elevator pitch should be crafted and rehearsed beforehand. An elevator pitch should address who you are, what you do, why you do it and why you are the best at it. Keep this short and to the point, but do not sell yourself short—use this opportunity to catch the employers attention. Most importantly, your elevator pitch should continually develop and transform. Tailor your pitch to fit the culture, values and necessary skills of the job you are pursuing. 

3.   Exhibiting poor body language

Body language makes up 55 percent of communication. Poor body language suggests a lack of interest. It is crucial to be aware of your body language, ensuring you are sitting up straight and maintaining eye contact throughout your interview. Always offer a firm handshake. It is expected to be nervous during an interview but try not to channel your nerves into body language by fidgeting and crossing your arms. Smile often and remain engaged in the conversation. 

4.  Speaking poorly of past employers

Prospective employers want to hire positive people who work well with others, regardless of hardships. Employers look for potential employees that persevere through difficult situations. Speaking poorly of previous employers or coworkers automatically reveals a bad attitude and a lack of respect. Prepare for tough and predictable questions such as “tell me about a time that you struggled with a coworker.” Do not resort to speaking poorly of previous colleagues. Instead, focus on how you handled the situation, how you could have changed and what you learned from the experience. 

5.    Not having any legitimate questions

Interviews are a two-way street. In order to have a successful interview, both the employer and interviewee should encourage conversation. When you are offered a chance to ask questions, do not turn this opportunity down. Naturally, people participate in conversations that interest them. An employer may feel you are not interested if you reject an opportunity to ask questions. Choose your questions wisely because questions can reveal your true intentions. For example, do not use this time to inquire about your salary or vacation days. Ask questions that imply your desire to be successful and work hard. For example, inquire about the company culture. This suggests your interest in the company and will help you assess if the company would be a strong fit for you. 

Like most skills, your interview skills will continually progress and develop. As you interview more, you will discover what works and your nerves will settle (hopefully). Practice makes perfect. Best of luck! 

MEET THE INTERNS: SUMMER 2018

Can we get a Roll Tide?! Three talented, innovative and eager University of Alabama students joined the KC Projects team as interns in May. Help us welcome Victoria Morris, Elizabeth Summers, and Bethany Pappas. Keep reading to learn more about our KC Projects Summer Interns!

“A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

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Victoria Morris

Hometown: Spanish Fort, AL

What is your favorite social media channel? Pinterest; it’s a creative lifesaver with no drama

What are three things you can’t live without? Cell phone, chocolate, sports

Where do you see yourself in three years? Living in the South with a PR job

You may have to look twice if you see Victoria out and about. She’s been known to don a Princess Elsa costume for children’s birthday parties!

 

 

 

Elizabeth Summers

Hometown: Birmingham, AL

What is your favorite social media channel? Instagram; I love the Insta-story features

What are three things you can’t live without? Dogs, coffee, Eberjey pjs

Where do you see yourself in three years? Working in a PR firm

Elizabeth spends her free time walking dogs, being active with friends and going on coffee runs! This girl is always on the go!

 

 

 

Bethany Pappas

Hometown: Cullman, AL

What is your favorite social media channel? Twitter; it makes me laugh every day

What are three things you can’t live without? My sisters, candy, Netflix

Where do you see yourself in three years?Living in Birmingham or Nashville

When Bethany isn’t PRing at KC Projects, you may find her scrubbing floors — she’s a self-proclaimed clean freak!