Samepoint – Another Great (Free) Social Media Monitoring Tool

31 12 2008

I didn’t find Samepoint. Samepoint found me.

The conversation search engine started following me on Twitter, which was a very smart move because now I’m blogging about it.  And it gives updates on Twitter all of the time about the new tools and features it adds to the site, such as the Wiki search function.

Samepoint is a great tool for us at The Impact Group because it allows us to track conversations about our clients. We can learn what people are saying and create the best messaging and tactics to help our clients respond in an effective manner.

It tracks blogs, microblogs, podcasts, videos and much more. So, if you aren’t monitoring what people are saying, here’s a free tool to get started!

Happy New Year!


My Favorite Web Projects of 2008

24 12 2008

More and more of what we do here at The Impact Group involves the web – web site development, social media marketing, video email, web video. Here are a few of the projects I had the privilege of working on this past year: – A web site created for the Teen Wellness Initiative through the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. We were able to have some fun in the design because the audience was younger, a little more edgy. – We were able to take a company that lives in an industry that’s not too flashy…and make their site flashy by integrating video. Administering retirement plans is not an easy thing to explain; but, using video allowed Trinity Pension Consultants to present this information in an easy-to-understand way. – Just a couple months ago we launched the web site for O-Line Academy, an offensive line training academy created by former Ohio State University o-line star, LeCharles Bentley. Not only was it fun working with LeCharles, but we were able to present O-Line Academy as THE place for offensive linemen to take their game to the next level using video and creative design. – Ohio Right to Life made a major jump from it’s former online presence (which was very old-school) to a dynamic, video-driven, up-to-date web site. In addition to the updated web site, we also helped Ohio Right to Life kick off a new e-mail outreach campaign this summer. – While the cobler’s son always goes without shoes (or however that phrase goes), we DID finally upgrade our own site in 2008. Although it took longer than most of our clients’ sites to develop, it did turn out well. We were able to integrate much of what we’re telling our clients to do in our own sites – web video, dynamic content, e-newsletter, blogging, and social media (we recently added a Facebook group, too – check it out).

There were many others, but these were just some of the highlights. 2009 looks to be another year where the Web plays a powerful role in growing our clients’ business, as well as our own. The online environment is changing daily, so we’ll be keeping on top of the latest trends and technologies to ensure we’re able to implement the most effective tactics for our clients.

Looking forward to 2009!


The Top Ten Gifts on Every Designer’s Wish List

19 12 2008

With the help of my fellow designers here at The Impact Group, I have developed a list of some great last-minute Christmas gifts sure to please the designer in your life. The wide range of gift options is sure to please your pocket book as well (ok, maybe not the trip to Fiji).

For the quirky designer in your life – USB retro Vacuum

For the serious designer in your life – Wireless Pen Tablet

For the comedic designer in your life – Graphic Design T-Shirts

The essential gift for every hard working designer – Adobe Creative Suite 4

For the color loving designer in your life – Pantone Color Cue2

For the, “I used to have perfect vision,” designer in your life – Cinema Display

For the nerdy designer in your life – Design books

For the “I’m not re-typing this” designer in your life – Capture Pro Software

No explanation needed for this one – Gift Cards

For the deserving designer in your life – Trip to Fiji

Happy Holidays everyone!

Consumers Want to See More Businesses on Social Media Sites

19 12 2008

If you ever doubted that your business should be involved in social media, here’s the proof that it should.

This Boston Globe article reports that consumers want to see more businesses getting involved in social media sites. For example, the study cited in the article found that 85 percent of Americans not only want to see a company’s presence online, they want to be able to interact with the company as well.

Another article from CMS Wire reports that more Americans are using blogs to stay connected, but also to make informed buying decisions.

So why not help your customers make those decisions? Be a voice in those online communities. Answer questions, address problems and frustrations and help dispel any misinformation people may be getting.

Your customers will thank you for it.

Happy Holidays!

Am I Becoming Immune to this Stuff?

18 12 2008

There has been so much to cover, politically speaking, in the last few weeks that I struggled to decide which major catastrophe/political goldmine to discuss. We had the Rod Blagojevich scandal, auto industry bail out collapse, an Iraqi journalist who apparently is not a fan of President Bush, a new Meet the Press moderator, more President-Elect Obama appointments, the Madoff “Ponzi” scheme, snow in Vegas, the possibility of another Senator Kennedy and today we found out which foreign nations gave millions of dollars to President Bill Clinton’s foundation causing an immediate conflict of interest with HRC set to become the next secretary of state.

Oh, and of course the most read story involved Jennifer Aniston and a striped tie. Go figure.

So where to even begin? I figured I could write, and write, and write all day about each of the stories I mentioned above. But that is probably not the most profitable thing for The Impact Group.  It’s not that I don’t want to write about all those stories. And I’m not getting lazy. I guess I’d just rather write something that doesn’t leave me sitting here shaking my head in disgust/disbelief. The bad news just builds on top of the news from the day before. I think I’m becoming immune to this stuff. So instead, I’ll attempt to clear my head and just leave you with the best political ad, in my opinion, of the 2008 presidential election. 

What made it the best ad, for me, was the simple, honest, genuine and unique message of the ad during the most heated part of the campaign, just a few weeks prior to the Iowa Caucus. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that this ad didn’t help seal the deal for Gov. Huckabee, who was outspent nearly 20-to-1 in Iowa by Gov. Mitt Romney.

Yes, we find ourselves in difficult and uncertain times. Yet we still hold true to the belief that there are better days ahead.  So with that in mind, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday and a prosperous New Year.


The Art of Pitching

18 12 2008

Getting a story placed doesn’t always happen so easily. Sometimes the news release that you send out doesn’t intrigue a reporter enough to want to develop the story more. That’s when the PR professional needs to pitch.

Pitching is the process of creatively and succinctly crafting either a verbal or written story idea, or even both. Pitching is finding the right story angle that will get the media’s attention and be meaningful to your audience. PR professionals are in the service of providing useful information to an audience via the media. PR is a resource for journalists.

At several PRSA Cleveland workshops for how to pitch the media, the panel of journalists always urges PR professionals to try more than once to pitch them a story idea (should they feel the PR professional is onto something). Ask them if it’d be okay to come back to them with a different take on the original pitch. If PR professionals really believe there’s a story to be told, they’ll find the best story angle.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when pitching to the media:

  1. Know their deadline
  2. Find out the best time to reach them
  3. Have the facts
  4. Make sure everything you give them is flawless

And…Make sure what you are pitching is really newsworthy!

For more tips, click here.


10 Ways to impact growth in 2009

15 12 2008

I can’t imagine a single educated person in a position of influence that hasn’t been affected by the negative news of late. Market volatility, political changes, bailouts and an overall uneasiness of stability has defined 2008. How will YOU prepare for a better 2009?

Things are no different here at The Impact Group. We are a full service marketing communications agency in Hudson, Ohio. We are experiencing clients and prospects that are taking a longer time to make decisions, shrinking budgets, disappearing cash flow.

The time is now to create a better growth strategy. Exclusively using the same marketing methods of the past and not incorporating “new media” will be a major mistake for organizations trying to thrive in this time of survival.

Understanding the shifts in the way people obtain and share information will be a critical component of marketing success in 2009. Being able to quickly apply that understanding into marketing outreach campaigns (social media marketing, online publicity, online marketing) that complement past / current methods (print materials, web, advertising, direct mail) is THE challenge for marketers in 2009.

The Impact Group has come up with 10 points to think about for a solid growth strategy in 2009.

1. Redesign your brand. What does a new car, new outfit, new haircut or a new coat of paint do to the psyche? The same thing a fresh corporate identity make-over can do to an organization. Even a modest change to an organization’s look can provide new energy to employees, media opportunities, excitement to current customers and new business opportunities. Check out some samples: Portfolio of work

2. Video Video Video!!! With the advances of video compression technology, video has never been easier to use for marketing purposes. Video is 5 times more effective than print for someone to remember your message, so throw away the print and replace it with video wherever possible. Use a video spokesperson to explain your website as people visit your homepage. (Sample: Incorporate video email for your sales and marketing outreach. Post video explanations and commercials of your products and services on your website (podcasts) and on sources like youtube. (Sample: 2009 will be the year direct mail will take a back seat to video email campaigns in cost efficiency and effectiveness. Get started before your competitors figure it out! More info on the effectiveness of video –

3. Listen to your customers. I can’t think of a better way to recalibrate your marketing message for 2009 than the recommendations from the customers buying your product in 2008. Do you have a simple print survey that can go in your invoices? How about an online survey that when completed, provides a coupon? We encourage gathering satisfaction data and recommendations year round. There are more comprehensive methods like focus groups, surveys, polls that can provide statistical certainty to strategic directions. I recommend starting with getting into your car to visit a few of your best customers, wish them a happy holiday, tell them why you appreciate their business and ask them for advice on how you might be able to grow into next year. Free marketing advice from the people that already buy your product can give you some good ideas for your 2009 growth strategy.

4. Social media marketing! The major trend in successful marketing is moving from the high impression factors of the past (one Super Bowl commercial brings 50 million + impressions on a broad audience for a 1 outreach : 50,000,000 target ratio) to the PERSONAL impression factor (1 personal trusted message : one target). This trend of one to one marketing can be most effectively done through online social networks. With the rapidly growing use of MySpace and Facebook and the ability to publicly follow a person or organization on Twitter, one to one marketing is ready for the savvy marketer to make an immediate and powerful impact. Read more on Social media marketing – and Social Media Marketing

5. Blog. 2008 was a year of exploring how blogging could impact an organization’s marketing efforts. Blogging (if done effectively) showed a powerful marketing ability to drive relevant traffic on a website, influence credibility for a product or service, grab mainstream media attention, and shape consumer behaviors. Blogging is providing the ability for the smaller company to have a louder voice. Read more on Blogging –

6. Online publicity. The web has provided small and large organizations alike a wonderful medium for disseminating news. Public relations, which used to be reserved for mainstream media, is now more effective when implemented through online channels – called Online Publicity. Not only do the major media receive notice of your news, but individuals and organizations can receive info directly to their inbox through things like GoogleAlerts and RSS feeds. Getting your news online – through your website, blogs, news sites, social media, and others – can make a huge impact in 2009.

7. Hire experts. Most organizations trust a CPA for their tax filings, attorneys for legal issues and doctors for medical matters. The problem with “expert” marketers is that there isn’t a universal accepted and measured accreditation like the previously mentioned professions. Most marketing firms are a few folks that took a couple design courses and now lay claim to most marketing capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are the extremely expensive large agencies that need their invoices to match their high rent and huge payrolls. Check out this article on small vs large agencies for some thoughts.  Marketing techniques have gotten very complex due to the reliance of new technology and the critical timing of delivery. The right marketing group will help you create and implement a growth strategy for your organization and allow you to streamline resources. How to select an agency –  Start your agency search –

8. Redefine your marketing message. Is your marketing message brief, simple to understand, interesting and able to distinguish you from your competition? Is it easy for someone interested in your product or service to get information in order to make a buying decision? What are the sound bytes? Everyone is too busy and you are competing against a world of information being thrown at your potential next customer. Your message must be able to cut through and motivate specific action.

9. Rebuild your web site. Most web sites are now outdated in information, technology and appearance. With the low costs of web technologies and the high value a good site brings to an organization, your website has to be a top priority in 2009. The ability for your products and services to show up on the top of the search engines is so important for growth. Your website appearance and relevance will be one of the main factors of establishing credibility in your future customers. Your website should be the centerpiece of the way you market.

10. Get your story told in the news. I’ve already talked about getting your news on the web. But, print and broadcast PR opportunities still exist in a big way. There are niche magazines for just about every industry in the world. And, while most news in a down economy is doom and gloom, media outlets are looking for positive, uplifting stories to tell. Getting the word out about that new client you landed, the product launching or the new hire…all these things are welcomed good news to the media, AND your prospects, clients and employees!

2009 has the potential to be a banner year, if you approach it with enthusiasm and knowledge. Take these points to heart. And, let us know how we can help.


My Advertising Inspiration

10 12 2008

I think it is always interesting to find out why people choose the fields they are in. In my case, I knew my entire life I would go into advertising. My main inspiration was my father, who had a very successful agency for almost 20 years. But there was a specific campaign that always caught my eye growing up and that was with Benetton (I actually ended up working in a store on my college breaks!) Benetton has always “pushed the envelope”. Going on the slogan “The United Colors of Benetton” it was the first ad campaign that I remember that the print ads had nothing to do with the product actually sold.  Their campaign was recognized by how controversial they could appear. These 2 examples show what I am saying:

The first refers to The Cycle of Difference

In this cycle, the word “different” became a close cousin of “controversial.” Benetton learned that dealing with the issue of difference within the process of advertising is not an easy task.  These ads depicted religious and sexual conflict (a priest kissing a nun), and yet another portrayed moral conflict (the stereotypes of good and evil, symbolized by an angel and the devil):

 campaign_history_92 campaign_history_102                                 

By acknowledging these differences and prohibitions, the brand appeared more involved. It took sides, rather than presenting a simple “objective” portrayal of the world. Benetton had a plan: to integrate opposites, to unite differences under a single flag, the flag of its own logo. In this phase, the “product” gradually disappeared from the advertisements.

The second is the Cycle of Reality

In 1991, during the Gulf War, this image was created, a photo of a war cemetery: also

campaign_history_112   campaign_history_121

The photo of the newborn baby girl, Giusy, was intended as an anthem to life, but was one of the most censured visuals in the history of Benetton ads. In the realm of advertising, traditionally occupied by pretense, the eruption of real life caused a scandal. As you can guess, many publications refused to print these. Which raises another question – is all publicity good publicity? Maybe I will save that issue for next time…

-Krista Rodriguez

Careers In a Recession?? Come on board!!

5 12 2008

Yahoo news has a interesting report on careers with solid futures, even during a recession.  Nurse, Engineer and school teacher made the list, which are consistent and expected.  But, internet marketer made the list as well.  As marketing changes, The Impact Group fully understands the needs of online marketing skills, including video-integrated marketing. Hit me up if you agree!

Internet Marketer ($53,000) — from Internet Marketing Specialist ($43,000) to Internet Marketing Life Coach — $203,000

Online marketers, also called eMarketers or Internet advertisers, work in a lively business sector that changes every day. One of those changes, according to the BLS 2008-09 Occupational Outlook Handbook, is continued growth. “Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales manager jobs are highly coveted and will be sought. … In particular, employers will seek those who have the computer skills to conduct advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales activities on the Internet.”


Be in style with AP Style

5 12 2008

Throughout our schooling as children, we learn the principles of grammar and writing. We learn all the basics from don’t start a sentence with “And” and don’t use a comma before “and” in a series. Over the years, however, we become relaxed about the rules and even debate with others about what grammar rules they learned in grade school. We can sometimes get away with not being correct because most people reading our writing may have forgotten the rules anyway.

 In public relations, there’s no fudging the rules.

 Public relations practicioners use AP Style writing. It’s the style of writing used by journalists who write for magazines and newspapers.

 AP Style can be kind of funky because it uses very specific rules on how to write out specific words. For example, months of the year should be spelled out only when it’s not used with a specific date (i.e. December 2008) and should be abbreviated when a specific date is used (i.e. Dec. 8, 2008). Rules like these fill the 400-plus page AP Style book.

 So, when you’re reading the newspaper or are reviewing a press release, and you see odd-looking grammar, know that the journalist or PR specialist is not educated about grammar. They’re just following the AP Style rules.