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Grammar, A Quickie

Published by Christina on June 29, 2009, in Grammar

As my command of the English language continues to grow (as I consider myself an eternal student), bear with me.  I suspect, time and again, you will find a typo or two.

As we live in such a fast paced world of communication, it happens, right?  Although, in effort to look like the professional you are, please take grammar seriously.  In addition, try to steer clear of too much slang (which, in my opinion, is quite unbecoming).

A few quickies for today:

  • Alot is NOT a word.  A lot means “a large number.”  A great trick a friend, teacher and fellow Trails and Vistas Board Member recently recommends that her students use “a great deal of” which encourages her students to steer clear of the common errors presented with the use of a lot.
  • Affect typically means something to influence or to change (usually used as a verb).
  • Effect tends to reference a result (usually used as a noun), “the rain had a terrible effect on the clean windshield.”

Endorsements?

Published by Christina on June 25, 2009, in General

Undoubtedly, we’ve all taken a second glance at a product or service based on the person serving as the “face” of the brand.  Brooke Shields has fabulous teeth (therefore I must use Colgate), one of our outdoor grills is affectionately known as “The Georgie” and if SpongeBob is on a product at the grocery store, it somehow ends up in our shopping cart.

Although it would be amazing to have a dependable, wholesome and highly recognized celebrity endorsing our product, it’s simply not in the budget for most.  Not to worry though, endorsements from local celebrities can go a long way.  Read on:

A very dear friend of mine writes a “Shop Talk” column for the Reno Gazette Journal.  Her husband always raves about the fact that as soon as she promotes a product in the weekly column, sales for this particular item go through the roof.  In addition, she attends and writes columns or short stories about all the major charitable events in the region.

Only recently, she joined the world of Twitter and now has over 300 followers.

Whether I’m buying tanning lotion, looking for someone to repair the heel of a high heel or trying to decide whether or not we should attend a fundraising dinner, I always turn to her first.

In her own right, she’s become a regional celebrity spokesperson.  It’s not because she gives me excellent referrals, it’s because she gives them to the entire region.

Who is this person in your community?  Are you connected?  Can you enhance this relationship?

Before adding this as a possible action item on your to-do list, read David Port’s article “Boost Your Brand” and discuss with your management team and/or board of directors.  Economically, it could be a fantastic and economically feasible way to promote your brand.

Social Marketing

Published by Christina on June 19, 2009, in Social Media

sunshine_testA prospectus released at AdTech in April indicated a 53% increase in interactive marketing within the next six months, despite the current economic downturn.

Since the conference, I’ve become a fan of Shelly Palmer’s tweets.  Palmer’s article, “All That Twitters Is Gold … Not” was published May 31, and should serve as a sigh of relief for all of us trying to become “experts” in the world of social media.

What do you think?

Charitable Giving Statistics

Published by Christina on June 15, 2009, in Charitable Giving

According to the Associated Press charitable giving by American’s fell by 2% in 2008 (as reported in a June 10, 2009 article*).   Reported categories include:

  • Individual giving, down 2.7% (from 2007)
  • Corporate giving down 4.5%
  • Foundation grants up 3%
    -Religions organizations received a 5.5% increase over 2007
    -Educational organizations are down 6.5%
    -Arts/culture/humanities organizations are down 6.4%
    -International affairs (including relief and exchange) up .6%
    -Environmental and animal welfare groups are down 5.5%

* The report is based on research by Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, including examination of some 400,000 federal tax forms.

We all anticipate a much higher decrease in 2009, but there are plenty of opportunities to keep your organization successful.  Make sure you’re personally “connecting” with current and prospective donors, managing overall expectations, and providing a value associated with their support.

Although you are in need, realize that these businesses and individuals may be as well.  Make sure you’re in a position to offer the recognition and marketing exposure they wholeheartedly deserve.

“Nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”

Published by Christina on June 11, 2009, in Charitable Giving

Quoted from Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle, April 18, 1942.

As we were watching Pearl Harbor the other night it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Why do I love what I do?  It’s in my heart.

I’m not a member of the Armed Forces, I couldn’t fathom the tenacity, bravery, heartbreak and pure pride affiliated with such a profession.  I’m simply a third generation northern Nevada gal interested in inspiring others to contribute.

I Googled “volunteer” and 87,700,000 opportunities presented themselves.  Since it’s such a broad search I went ahead and Googled our community, which consists of less than 15,000 year-round full time residents and found 23,700 search results.  Although it’s not about the numbers that pop up in an online Google search, I hope you get the point.

What is it you’ve done this month, year?  Some of you reading this couldn’t count on one hand how much you’ve done this week alone, although others may be desperate to get off this particular subject.

Local organizations I whole-heartedly support include Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Trails and Vistas, Truckee Donner Land Trust, BEAR League, Grace Church of Reno, Girl Scouts of America, and the American Lung Association’s Open Airways for Schools asthma management program (to name a few).

I won’t belabor too long over how easy it is to give a few hours here and there, or mention how many organizations not only allow but encourage you to include your family.  I wont even tell you how amazing it is to watch your 8-year-old son serve soup to the needy, pull weeds on a trail or help you watch and play with children so their parents can attend a church service.  No, I wont do it.  Instead, I challenge you to give it a go yourself, go on, do it.

Trails and Vistas

Published by Christina on June 10, 2009, in Case Studies, Recent Projects

Trails and Vistas is incredibly dear to my heart.   I hold the Marketing Chair on the Board of Directors. Executive Director Nancy Lopez passionately leads the organization, with strong support from InnerRhythms Dance Theatre, Truckee Donner Land Trust and Arts for the Schools.

I began working with the Nancy in spring of 2008.  The event had already experienced four successful years, with the 2007 art hike celebrating a complete sell-out.  Our goals, at that time, were to produce another sell-out event, enhance overall marketing, conduct research on event attendees and build a “working” event plan and cultivate additional sponsors and donors.

2008 Successes

  • Created marketing overview
  • Developed and utilized tactical event plan
  • Captured a research snap shot, 10% of attendees (both qualitative and quantitative)
  • Built a new PowerPoint presentation for Nancy, filled with facts and data on Trails and Vistas and its attendees
  • EVENT SELL OUT, 2nd year in a row

2009 Updates and Goals

  • Addition of adult-only hikes (based on research requests)
  • Upgraded marketing overview, with emarketing in the works
  • Enhanced tactical event plan
  • Diversified board with new fundraising function
  • Added more functionality to website
  • Anticipating another sell-out event

Private to Public, A Platform for My Future

Published by Christina on June 8, 2009, in Case Studies

I’m an avid outdoorswoman, I’m hooked and I admit it.  I have been all of my life, so when the opportunity to create a marketing department for an outdoor clothing company presented itself, I must say – it was a dream come true.

Of course, there’s a catch.  This particular company never had any sort of marketing communications, no budget for this type of program and absolutely no brand presence.

What they did have though was a product, and a solid one at that.  They had been sewing outdoor clothing for big name companies such as LLBean, Eddie Bauer and REI for many years.  It was simple, they made durable and practical outdoor clothing with high tech fabrics and then the big names labels were sewn right in.

The management, a family, decided they were ready to take this product into the market under their own name – build their own brand.

We were a young group of professionals, passionate and extremely hard working.  Over the course of three years we went from being a 98% private label business to generating 95% of our revenue from our own label.

It was incredible to watch the transformation, and I was exceptionally proud to be a part of the process.  Our trade show booth quadrupled in size (it became a double decked to accommodate demand), specialty and big box retailers were almost instant fans of our brand and the media loved us.

The family was featured in major trade publications (even gracing covers), while our product was given favorable reviews in favorites such as Backpacker, Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine – to name a few.

We hosted Forest Service, BLM and Student Conservation efforts, while learning and supporting projects such as invasive weed management, trail refurbishments and Leave No Trace.

I can still smell the early morning fall air in Yosemite Valley, or the sound of a snowboard carving through fresh powder while managing a photo shoot.  Thanks to a good friend in the industry, I even had the opportunity to learn to fly fish (with an all too patient guide).

What an opportunity!  This particular position unilaterally changed the path of my career forever.  Not only did I have the chance to build a successful multi-million dollar marketing campaign, I found out I could enjoy and support the outdoors at the same time.

Naked on the Golf Course! A Snapshot of Crisis Management

Published by Christina on , in Case Studies

One day in the mid 90’s, working as the public relations manager for an un-named hotel casino, I received an afternoon call from the newsroom of the local paper.  I was surprised to hear his voice, as he was the city editor with a reputation for being tough as nails.  Typically, I was far from his radar, as I mainly dabbled in dining and entertainment.

As I cheerily said, “Oh hello Mr. X.” he sharply snapped, “Why are there naked ladies on the public golf course?”

I can only imagine the long pause of utter shock on my end of the phone.  We’re a hotel casino, what on earth would we have to do with naked ladies on a public golf course?

With a touch of dread and a great deal of curiosity, I asked if he could elaborate.  Mr. X quickly sneered that he’d received calls from residents living on the golf course that there was naked women running around.  Even worse, they said they were a part of our (no name hotel casino) golf tournament.

Our what?

No, we weren’t hosting a golf tournament.  I would certainly know, heck, I would’ve been heavily involved with the promotion.  I kindly explained that his informant must have been mistaken, we weren’t hosting an event that particular day at that particular course.

He barked again, “You go ask the owner, I’ll hold on the phone until you get back.  I want answers, now!”

I figured I’d just put him on hold for a few moments, and then get back on the phone to reassure him again.  Then, suddenly, a sinking feeling took over my stomach.  This particular hotel casino did have a reputation for keeping my predecessors in the dark, perhaps I was falling victim to the same fate.

I strolled into the general managers office who looked at me at though I’d broken the golden rule (the one where I needed an appointment to enter) but knew it was too important to ignore.  I explained the accusations and that the city editor was waiting, unhappily, for an immediate response.

Without a moment to consider, she asked her assistant to call one of the casino hosts.  She quickly mumbled something about a VIP golf tournament and pursued her quest to scold this host as opposed to “deal with” the pr situation at-hand.

As I turned back toward my desk and the blinking phone, I could only imagine what the families on this golf course were being exposed to.  Forget the birds and the bees, drinking, women for hire, all on a hot sunny day?  There isn’t a parenting manual to cover this show.

Without any direction from the general manager, I had seconds to strategize our approach. Pass no comment? Clearly that would be the kiss of death.  Try to convince the editor that we were still looking into it?  Then I lose the opportunity to control the info being provided, as he’ll drive right down to the golf course to “look into it” for us.

I knew what to do, trust my instincts (as any good communications professional would) – tell the truth.

I picked up the phone and did my best to appease an unhappy editor.  Yes, it was a VIP tournament hosted by our hotel casino.  Yes, these men and women we’re behaving in a highly appropriate manner.  Yes, we will make sure everyone involved is reprimanded and yes, we will issue a public apology to the city.

I bet your wondering if an unfavorable article ran, the answer, of course, is yes.  It was one of the front-page stories.  Could it have been worse, definitely.  Although I suspect it could’ve been better had our general manager or owner directly given the editor the attention he deserved (nothing like an apology from the person in charge).

Moral of this story:

  • Make sure you know who is representing you, both on and off campus.
  • Inform your communications representative of all / any activities taking place.
  • If something goes awry, get ready to grovel.  Don’t have someone else do the dirty work, it never pays off.

Las Vegas Celebrates 100 Years: Helldorado Days – A City and its Community Working Together

Published by Christina on , in Case Studies

While living in Las Vegas, Nevada, I participated in a few freelance projects for R&R Partners, Helldorado Days being the most emotional.  The event was a reunion, of sorts, for a passionate group of those considered to be ole timers in what is now a diverse city.  Even my grandmother told me stories of attending the event with my grandfather, a soldier and dentist, while they were living on the Nellis Air force Base during World War II.

In my effort to produce compelling media releases, I interviewed dozens of past attendees and found myself becoming an expert, of sorts, of what the ambiance entailed.

I ran through pages and pages of past Helldorado Days Queens, tracking down there whereabouts.  I even had the opportunity to watch their eyes light up as they met for a pre-parade breakfast and photo shoot, with each woman proudly donning a sash from their heyday.

The City of Las Vegas, Elks Lodge and various community groups were incredibly passionate and cooperative collaborators.  A snapshot from the project is listed below –

SUMMARY

The resurrection of Helldorado Days, one of the most famous celebrations in the history of Las Vegas, is scheduled to commence in May 2005.  A series of traditional events, for all ages, are scheduled as a part of Las Vegas’ Centennial. From a Trail Ride and Rodeo to a Poker Tournament and Shootout, residents and visitors alike are sure to enjoy the diversity of festivities surrounding Helldorado Days 2005.

The heart of Helldorado Days will reside in its legendary home, Western Village. The village is Helldorado Days ‘home base,’ hosting a multitude of entertaining and educational daily experiences. Helldorado Days will kick-off in early May during a three-day trail ride and conclude on Sunday, May 15, Las Vegas’ 100th Birthday.  Upholding a long-standing tradition, a portion of all proceeds from the historical celebration will go to local charities.

Established in 1934, Helldorado Days were born in Las Vegas. With only 5,000 residents most were preparing to complete the labor-intensive Hoover Dam. Las Vegas City Fathers grew concerned that residents would relocate, and realized they needed an attraction that would create a sense of community pride strong enough to encourage the dam workers to consider making southern Nevada their permanent home.  The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge #1468 sponsored the first Helldorado Days, which became the beginning of an era that would influence hundreds of thousands of people, and span over six decades.

PRIMARY AUDIENCES:

  • Key local regional and national media
  • Las Vegas natives
  • Las Vegas newcomers, those that have moved to the area after 1984
  • Long-time Las Vegas residents, those that moved to the area prior to 1985
  • Tourists interested in western events, and/or being a part of Centennial

GOAL:
To position Helldorado Days 2005 as Centennial’s must-attend event, while educating the community at large on the history of its inception in an effort to instill and promote community pride.

MEAUSREMENTS FOR SUCCESS:

  1. Media Coverage
  2. Western Village – number of visitors

KEY MESSAGES:

  • Develop and communicate key messages emphasizing the following:
  • Must-attend Centennial event
  • Revival of Helldorado’s good ‘ole days
  • Sense of community pride
  • Historic relevance of events
  • Charitable contributions

Custom Learning Academy, Learning Without Limits

Published by Christina on , in Case Studies

As a parent, it’s rare to find a school that you absolutely love.  Sure, there are schools that might have great teachers, or an incredible science program, even a state-of-the-art playground.  But are they all you’d hoped for?  Is your child growing, from both an educational and emotional standpoint?

Thanks to Lisa Crosby and her incredibly intelligent, proactive, fun and dedicated staff, we have a child that is not only thriving he’s excelling.

Lisa and her creative team, being led by the creative strategy of Jane Weeks at ETHICA Advertising, are embarking on a new way of communicating.  I’m excited to be a part of their new branding project, as Marketing Consultant, and look forward to Lisa’s continued success.