Embassy Suites – Impressed

23 01 2009

I’m staying at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque, NM, and wanted to share an impressive letter to their guests that I found on the desk…

To Our Guests

In ancient times there was a prayer for

“The Stranger within our Gates”

Because this hotel is a human institution to serve people, and not solely a money making organization, we hope that God will grant you peace and rest while you are under our roof.

May this room and hotel be your “second” home. May those you love be near you in thoughts and dreams. Even though we may not get to know you, we hope that you will be comfortable and happy as if you were in your own house.

May the business that brought you our way prosper. May every call you make and every message you receive add to your joy. When you leave, may your journey be safe.

We are all travelers. From “birth till death” we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.

…Impressive! I now have a preferred hotel choice for whenever I travel!



The Impact Group Works with the World’s Tallest Dog

21 01 2009

This Thursday, January 22, The Impact Group will spearhead some very exciting PR for its client ForeverLawn!

We will be in Albuquerque to promote Gibson, the World’s Tallest Dog, as the spokesdog for ForeverLawn’s K9Grass (the only artificial turf for dogs). While we’re in Albuquerque, we’ll be working with local morning TV shows , newspapers  and magazines  to capture this very fun and exciting moment for ForeverLawn.

Gibson is in town for the ForeverLawn dealer conference and will be making stops at Rio Rancho Petland and Lucky Paws, a no-kill animal shelter.

Stay tuned in for HUGE coverage of K9Grass/Gibson!


The Benefits of an Online News Room

7 01 2009

The web has provided a great opportunity for PR, or online publicity, as a “push” tool to get your press releases out to the world. But, another great option to “pull” traffic to your site is the online news room.

An online news room can take on a variety of forms – depending on the subject, target, and the extent of your outreach. Creating a section on your site for all your news will improve the relevance of your site in searches, and will provide reporters with easy access to press releases, company info and high resolution artwork (photos, logos, etc.). In pitching news stories for our clients, we’ve found that the online news room is extremely beneficial – both to the news media and to us.

A good, simple example of an online news room comes from our client, ForeverLawn – a synthetic grass company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were pitching a story for a new project they were involved with in Tucson, Arizona. They had installed a landscape product in nine model homes in the new SaddleBrooke Ranch development, and the pictures told the story. See the online news room here.

The story garnered some positive attention, and ultimately a feature story in Arizona Builder Magazine. And, I believe the online news room made that a no-brainer decision for ABM to pick up the story.

If you need help setting up an online news room for your next publicity outreach, let us know.


Keep PR in your 2009 budget!

7 01 2009

News headlines about our country’s shrinking economy aren’t going away anytime soon. As companies are trying to forget a very forgettable 2008, they are looking at how 2009 can be better.

In response to 2008, many companies are slashing their 2009 marketing budgets as a way to save money (this is the opposite of what should really be done during a downward economy). The PR budget, however, should NOT be cut!

PR is the most cost effective tool, especially during tough economic times. PR is less expensive than advertising and most marketing methods, such as sending a direct mail piece. As an added benefit, PR is more credible than advertising and marketing.

Companies can have a more impactful PR program by using Web 2.0 along with traditional PR methods. Marketwire recently published a white paper titled “Top 10 Strategies for Shrinking Communications Budgets: Doing More with Less.” In this article, tips are provided on how to leverage PR and the Web at a fraction of the cost of marketing.

To get more tips on how to use PR in 2009, click here.


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: www.igpr.com) 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: www.trinitypension.com) 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 – http://www.vidpro.org/videomkt.htm

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 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

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. http://adage.com/smallagency/post?article_id=111233  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 – www.ehow.com/how_2052377_select-right-marketing-firm.html  Start your agency search – www.igpr.com

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. www.igpr.com


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.