On Sat., Dec. 15, Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, N.C. hosted their first annual Gingerbread Jamboree. At the center of the sold out holiday event was Howard, Merrell & Partners’ client, The Candy Cottage. We proposed the idea to Marbles Kids Museum and helped coordinate the event to ensure The Candy Cottage received maximum exposure. The Jamboree was promoted through public relations, social media and other marketing efforts. As the event’s official sponsor, The Candy Cottage was promoted before, during and after the event.
Attended by more than 60 families, the event scored great visibility among consumers and helped to create sweet memories at the same time. Families who attended the event were given a Candy Cottage to decorate and take home. With a plethora of decorating goodies from candy canes to frosted cereals and even pretzels, the kids and parents had a blast creating their own keepsake Candy Cottage.
Following the Jamboree, attendees gave very positive feedback:
“I just wanted to tell you how wonderful the event was today! The cottages were so easy to decorate, the selection of decorations was incredible and creative and the staff was so helpful and friendly. My kids and I had an absolutely wonderful time and I am sure we will use the house again and again. I hope you have the event again next year…”
“I am writing to say that the day was a wonderful success for my family and we were very impressed with how well it was organized. We could hardly believe the room was full of excited families. It was fun and we hope to enjoy this event for many years to come. Thank you for your efforts.”
As Stanford Smith points out in his blog post What the $200 Million Tweet Can Teach You About Personal Influence, if we have a social media presence, we have influence. But, we must understand our influence – no matter how large or small – and harness it by being relevant.
This means all of your company’s on-and-offline efforts must be strategic and consistent – reaching your potential customers with smart, diverse and interesting messages. This is a basic branding concept, and it strongly applies to social engagement, because every person connected to your organization is part of your brand – whether you like it or not.
If you’re working to grow your company’s influence online, here are some important steps to building a loyal and engaging audience:
- Seek & Find – Do your due diligence and know where your audience engages online. To manage a profile on any platform takes time and resources. Don’t waste them by going down an empty rabbit hole. If you sell a technology product and your customers are men ages 28 – 50 in IT, then Pinterest
probably isn’t the place for you. And, be sure to look outside the top five social networks – many organizations are creating their own communities. While they may be small, if that’s where your audience is you should be there too.
- Content Is King – Think quality, not quantity. Delivering educational and engaging content is key. And, it should all connect via a hub – much like a web. Maybe this is your website, a blog, or online community. Write blog posts. Tweet about them. Post them to Facebook and reference them on forums and in blog comments. Be transparent. And don’t just promote your own musings. Rather, offer a mix of your own content and content created by other experts. Make it fun and keep it quick.
- Listen – Your customers have something to say. It’s likely relevant to your business. Listen to them. Glean relevant insights from them, then interact. Remember, social media is a two-way communication vehicle its important to engage with your users with a human touch.
- Bring Old School to The New School – Don’t forget traditional advertising and communications tactics. They can deliver your message to a broader audience and help build your company’s relevance.
How is your company building influence online? Is this part of your 2013 planning? Share your thoughts with us below.
As each year draws to a close, we as communicators naturally start to reflect on the news we saw unfold, the trends that came to fruition and how these all impact our daily lives. More importantly, we try to look ahead, identify emerging trends and brace ourselves for change and evolution.
2012 was packed with events and advancements that will add color to marketing history: the U.S. Presidential election, the Lance Armstrong scandal, the continued growth of mobile apps, Facebook’s IPO and subsequent stock plummeting — just to name a few. Mainstream media had its hands full covering all of the above. But 2012 was really no different than any other year. No year will ever be dull when it comes to news and technological advancements with far-reaching implications.
What will 2013 bring? We’ll see many of the same trends that emerged in 2012 really take shape in the New Year. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see an increase in the use of visuals to communicate with one another. Even with all the existing technology that makes work and life more efficient, we still long for the human touch. Visual images draw us in and force us to feel a deeper connection. For this reason, we’ll start to see more business applications of Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and infographics to reach a broader audience. These new visual communications tools are enabling modern society to more easily digest, interpret and act on information.
In 2013, mobile will continue to impact the way marketers think about messaging and consumption. The concept of “social, local, mobile” (SoLoMo) has demonstrated how consumers want to consume content. As marketers continue to take their websites and apps mobile, their content must address all three dimensions in order to meet users’ needs and desires.
In 2011, eMarketer predicted that U.S. online video ad spend would grow 52.1 percent to $2.16 billion in 2011, before reaching $7.11 billion in 2015. Without a doubt, YouTube and other video channels will play a major role in brand communications. Often underestimated, video – when used properly – can be highly engaging, drive brand loyalty and keep customers coming back for more. Marketers should explore ways to leverage video, even with limited budgets.
What other trends do you expect to emerge? How will your company use new social media, mobile or video applications to reach existing and new audiences? We’d love to hear!
Sure I love the Fall because it gets cooler, football season is finally back and the leaves change color, but as a marketer I really love Fall because that means we are approaching planning season. It is the time of year we get to look back at what we have accomplished and look forward to the future. We get to have long brainstorm sessions with our clients and think through the best strategies to meet the opportunities and challenges their brands face.
As you look forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving don’t forget to pull out your planning hat and remember to keep three things in mind to ensure you have a solid Marketing Communications Plan for 2013.
- Update Your SWOT: Too often marketers neglect to reassess their company or brand’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Looking at these internal and external factors is critical to developing realistic goals and objectives and the supporting strategies.
- Look For Trends: You should be staying on top of this throughout the year, but now is the time to revisit the articles, surveys and research you have been collecting to pull out implications. Finding out things like how your audience is currently consuming digital and social media may be critical to your plan next year. Looking at trends will also open up your mind to new options and out of the box thinking rather than simply adjusting the status quo.
- Include Measurement: Often thought of after the fact, the details of how you will measure your plan may not only help you sell it through to senior management and provide data to validate mid-year adjustments, but when successful you’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment that can truly energize the organization.
What key indicators are you planning for 2013? How will you create and execute a strategy that will drive success in the coming year? Share your thoughts and ideas below.
We are excited to have Amy Jones join the agency as an associate account coordinator on the Public Relations and Social Media Marketing team.
A recent graduate from High Point University, Amy has brought with her an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. Her college courses and internships have given her a good base of knowledge in public relations, social media and analytics. We look forward to her using that knowledge and continuing to grow as a communications professional.
Amy is supporting the Georgia-Pacific Professional, FMI, SafeMark, SQFI and the Candy Cottage accounts. For more information on Amy, check out her release.
After spending a few years in working in Washington DC, Binta Cisse decided she wanted to move back home near family. And, we are glad she did!
An NC State graduate, Binta joins the agency as an Associate Account Executive working on the Georgia-Pacific Professional, BASF Plant Science and Food Marketing Institute accounts. She works alongside her teammates to provide PR and social media expertise to her clients’ integrated campaigns that also include creative, interactive, market research and paid media components. Her energy and enthusiasm fit nicely with the culture here at the agency, as does her strong commitment to client service.
Before joining the HM&P family, Binta worked at two different DC firms – Environics Communications and Spectrum. She also found time to earn her MS degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Welcome Binta to the Howard, Merrell & Partners family! Learn more about Binta in her announcement.
Mitt Romney has found himself in full PR crisis mode after saying at a private fundraiser that 47% of the American electorate believe “that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing.”
According to PR News, unbeknownst to Romney, the statements, made in May, had been secretly captured on video by an attendee. As you can imagine, Romney’s communications team is working hard to combat the negative talk that is now in full swing.
Let’s learn from Romney’s mistake:
Don’t say anything in any public or semi-public setting that you wouldn’t want to see in the media or on the internet.
Don’t write anything on a blog, Twitter,… that you would not want to see posted somewhere else. Emails can be forwarded too….to anyone.
Easy to take pictures or videos these days — be aware of your surroundings and your actions.
You are a representative of your company, your school, your family. Make them proud.
Earlier this month, we were a part of one of the biggest events in the outdoor industry: Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. The tradeshow spanned four days and overran the Salt Palace Convention Center with brands, media and mills showcasing the best and the brightest products and offerings in the outdoor industry.
The Howard, Merrell & Partners team supported CORDURA® brand before and during the show offering creative strategy, media outreach and consumer engagement. To prepare for the show, the HMP PR and Social Media teams focused on four main outreach strategies to maximize our impact:
1) Traditional Media Outreach
Prior to and during the show, HM&P sent media the latest news from the CORDURA® brand, from new fabric technologies and mills to the Arctic Row sponsorship to a Back to School promotion with Eastern Mountain Sports. We invited attendees and media to stop by the booth to see the heritage products on display in honor of the brand’s 45th anniversary and talked with brands about their upcoming offerings that include CORDURA® fabric in order to cross-promote in the future.
2) Social Media Outreach
HM&P created a comprehensive social media plan to promote the CORDURA® brand “Durability Through the Decades” booth campaign and promoted giveaways of products from loyal brand customers on Twitter. By encouraging attendees to follow the @CORDURABrand Twitter handle for giveaway prompts through the show’s daily event calendar, we secured new followers and had an uptick in direct engagement. After the show, we highlighted heritage products and “dress up as your favorite decade” photos from the booth in a Facebook album to give extra life to the booth and the experience it offered visitors.
3) Storytelling in the Booth
To highlight CORDURA®’s 45th anniversary of providing top brands with durable fabric solutions, the HM&P creative team designed a logo and templates to showcase many of the brand customers’ key products that have distinguished their collections over the years. We set up the booth as a kind of exhibition space to showcase heritage products–from a 43-year-old Kelty bag to a decades-old climbing suit designed for JanSport’s Skip Yowell. The dirt and wear on the products added to their charm and the authenticity of the brand’s durability platform.
4) Brand Ambassadors
As an extension of the CORDURA® brand team, the HM&P team present at the booth participated in brand customer meetings in which upcoming products made with CORDURA® fabric and cross-promotional marketing strategies were discussed. Our team also visited brand customers in their booths to understand how they showcase their product made with CORDURA® brand fabric. These opportunities allowed us to become ever more engrained and knowledgeable so that we can support our client’s marketing efforts surrounding upcoming product innovations.
All of these strategies helped HM&P support CORDURA® brand in their work to secure new fabric placements, increase brand awareness and build value with brands and media outlets. We’re looking forward to packing our down coats and upping our game for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market!
We’re excited to welcome Binta Cisse to the agency. She joins us as an Associate Account Executive in the PR and Social Media department.
A poised and driven individual, Binta has a fluency in public relations combined with a media relations prowess. She has already proven to be a great benefit to the agency and the clients she supports. Before joining us, Binta worked at Environics Communications and SPECTRUM PR, both in Washington DC.
Earning her B.A. in communications from North Carolina State University, Binta received her M.S. in strategic public relations from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Find out more about BInta in her press release.
We have promoted two fabulous members of the HM&P Family! Cameron Reed has been promoted to Account Executive and Maria Martinat to Associate Account Executive.
In her new role as account executive, Cameron is responsible for managing the day-to-day public relations efforts for clientele, including Georgia-Pacific Professional, Solair® Shade Solutions and The Wine Feed. This past year, she served as a member of the team that helped Butterball, LLC receive a Sir Walter Raleigh Award on behalf of the Raleigh Public Relations Society. During her tenure here, she provided strategic communication support for a number of clients across a variety of industries including Southwest Windpower, House-Autry Mills, BASF Plant Science and Godfrey’s Jewelers.
Maria began her career at the agency as an intern, where her dedication and strong eye for detail quickly progressed her into a role as an account coordinator. As an account coordinator, Maria helped drive successful public relations for clients including Barton College, Candy Cottage, Case Farms, Georgia-Pacific Professional, Butterball, LLC, House-Autry Mills and INVISTA’s CORDURA® brand. In her new role as an associate account executive, she helps elevate branding and communication efforts through strategic public relations and social media campaigns, counseling clientele, and tradeshow and event management.
Learn more about these fabulous ladies here.