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Let’s Get Real

Published by Christina on January 9, 2013, in Career Advice, General, Social Media, Startups

Four years ago, while walking with a spring in my step after an incredibly informative conference day at AdTech, I stopped at Banana Republic. At that very moment, my phone rang… I was thrilled to see a familiar name behind the ring and then it hit me like a baseball bat – shopping at Banana Republic was no longer going to be a part of my individual freedom. I was about to be swallowed by their future advertising. Suddenly I felt less free and, to be honest, a little paranoid.

The phone I was carrying allowed me to stay in touch with my family and business in a moment’s notice. It gave me directions to just about anywhere in the world and if I had the right model, allowed me to spend ample time shopping on the internet.

What I had just learned was this device was going to be a big part of my future marketing campaigns. Yes, if I was at Starbucks Coffee they would send me a text when I walked in the door offering me a discount on my favorite latte. When I visited Banana Republic I would receive a message letting me know the style of shirt I purchased last spring was available in new spring colors and in “my” size.

My senses were overloaded as I struggled to grasp this next phase in social media, and I immediately wanted to know how I could implement these tools into future programming. Four years forward and we now reference the quickly developing tactic as Real-Time Marketing.

I’d like to share a story of a few examples of this trending tactic in the world of social marketing. As you read the examples, I encourage you to read between the lines. Are any of these tactics one you can incorporate into your programming? Would it behoove you to re-adjust your strategy by doing so? Do you have an upcoming event that would allow you to test a real-time marketing strategy?  How are you measuring your current social media efforts?

This is a guest contribution by Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter Group who covers digital advertising and media, an area that encompasses brands, publishers, agencies, and technology vendors. You can follow her on Twitter @lieblink.

How Real Companies Are Leveraging the Power of Real-Time Marketing

That’s all well and good, but in the real world, how are marketers working in real time? There are lots of examples from brands you probably recognize, and most break into one of two buckets: event driven, and customer driven. The former category is what this post will focus on. Event driven real-time marketing embraces public events — think a major sporting event, the Oscars, or Fashion Week. Brand events like trade shows or product launches fall into this category, too. You can even count breaking news in this bucket. Let’s review seven examples of real brands going real-time with their marketing to spark your creativity.

Pepsi During Fashion Week 2011

Pepsi launched their Diet Pepsi skinny during Fashion Week 2011. Rather than advertise, the product was integrated into the event. Pepsi hired a journalist with full press credentials to the event. When she published, Pepsi amplified the content on social channels and also used Twitter and Foursquare to flag notable events. Brand positioning: “get the skinny” on fashion and pop culture.

Pizza Hut & Foursquare Team Up During the Super Bowl

People who checked in to the game unlocked a ‘Super Swarm Sunday’ badge with an offer: “spend $10, get $5 off” at Pizza Hut when paying with American Express. As of 6:20pm EST, 175,365 people had checked in (the number was growing by 1,000 per minute). By the time the badge expired, 303,445 people had checked in.

Oxygen Network Pilots OxygenLive

With over 2 million viewers per episode, “Bad Girls Club” is the Oxygen Network’s top show. Early in its fourth season, the network piloted “OxygenLive” on the East Coast. The show, a “social viewing party” with talent from the show, pulled comments and conversations from social networks into a hub. Ratings for adults 18-49 were up 92% from the previous season in the East, while in the West, where “OxygenLive” didn’t air, ratings rose a mere 14%.

Walgreens’ SoLoMo Foursquare Program

Customer driven real-time marketing tends to be customer service focused. In fact, new research from The Social Habit finds consumers reaching out to companies on social channels expect a response within 60 minutes. That’s why it’s freat that Walgreens’ SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) Foursquare program reaches in-store shoppers. Consumers who check in at a Walgreens location on Foursquare instantly receive a coupon for a special offer. Even more innovative: the coupon can be scanned directly from the phone.

Pretzel Crisps’ “Social Sampling” Program

This real-time program monitors Twitter conversations to identify customers who are “in need of a snack.” @PretzelCrisps offers to deliver a free product sample, often with a follow-up that encourages recipients to share feedback and start conversations about the brand. Pretzel Crisps has garnered over 4.2 million earned media impressions since the launch of the program in July 2010, has delivered some 3,600 free samples to consumers, and the company has seen sales increase up to 87 percent over the previous year.

@ChicagoCabbie Generates Repeat Business With Real-Time

The man managing #ChicagoCabbie proves you don’t have to be a big brand to get a big bang out of real-time marketing. The Twitter handle belongs to cabbie Rashid Temuri, who gets 90-95% of his repeat business through social media channels, primarily Twitter. Customers can follow him and check his location on Google Latitude or Find My Friends. When they need a cab, they know if he’s nearby and can tweet for a ride. Bonus: free WiFi in his cab!

EuroControl Oversees European Air Safety

During the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010 that grounded all flights in the region, their homepage featured updated maps of the volcanic ash movement, explaining the implications. They updated their Facebook page, Twitter account, and relevant LinkedIn groups with useful information for travelers. They consistently used Twitter hashtags #euva and #ashtag to inform customers. After introducing the hashtags, customers themselves started sharing stories and tips with them.

Getting Real About Implementing Real-Time Marketing

Larger organizations dedicate significant resources to real-time marketing. Applebee’s has 7,000 employees in 1,000 locations handling real-time at a local and community level. Dell and Gatorade have vast listening centers equipped with sophisticated listening technology to measure brand sentiment. But all real-time strategies, large or small, begin with listening and learning — long before talking or doing. Measuring conversations and sentiment is the first step in determining how real-time programs will develop. You can start with free monitoring tools, or invest in one of the many paid social media monitoring technologies.

The highest cost of real-time marketing can be the team that makes it happen. After all, always-on means 24/7 staffing. Arm teams with the necessary tools, and train them to respond in accordance with social media policies and in the brand’s voice. Most importantly, empower them to work in an agile environment, free of the chain-of-approval strictures that are completely antithetical to real-time marketing.

Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33696/7-Inspiring-Examples-of-Real-Time-Marketing-in-Action.aspx#ixzz2HWu2tfWt

My head is spinning and I’m excited about the future of our industry. It continues to unravel on a daily basis and I can’t help but think about ways to implement these strategies. As I prepare to head out for a meeting in my car, which is very low on gas, I’m curious – is my car directing me to the nearest gas station?  Or, is it sending me to the nearest gas station paying the car manufacturer to direct me?

It’s definitely getting real…



Marketing to Yourself – or Your Customer?

Published by Christina on July 17, 2012, in Career Advice, General

B2B Sales Pros Not Satisfied with Content in Campaigns


According to a survey from Corporate Visions, 80% of B2B marketing and sales professionals say their demand generation campaigns are ineffective to semi-ineffective, Among those, content is the biggest challenge. 37% say the single most important factor hampering successful demand generation campaigns is “… (it) isn’t engaging or provocative,” while 31% cite a lack of sales and marketing alignment, and 12% cite budget constraints.

Reasons For Ineffective Demand Generation Campaigns (Of Those Responding Ineffective)
Reason % of Respondents
Content isn’t engaging or provocative 37%
Lack of marketing/sales alignment 31
Budget constraints 12
Not enough content 9
Lack of executive buy-in 8
Source: Corporate Visions, July 2012

Moreover, campaign messaging lacks a customer focus, says the report. 60% of B2B marketing and sales professionals say their organization’s demand generation campaigns focus solely on their own company’s products, features, and services, rather than focusing on their customers’ pain points.

As a result, nearly two-thirds (65%) of sales-specific respondents say their sales teams use less than one-half of the demand generation content their marketing department produces.

Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and marketing officer for Corporate Visions, concludes that “… survey results… show us that organizations are facing serious challenges when it comes to creating and executing effective demand generation campaigns… creating engaging content and developing messages that clearly address customer pain points… “

About the data: Findings are from Corporate Visions’ Q2 2012 Sales and Marketing Messaging Report, based on a poll of more than 440 B2B salespeople and marketers in the second quarter of 2012.

Notes from Christina: If you have an internal sales team that interacts well with your customers you are doing yourself a disservice by creating and executing programs and marketing campaigns without their input. Although it’s often a hard tablet to swallow, a savvy internal sales team will know more than anyone in your business about the nuts and bulbs of your brand. Let them participate and soak in the success that will surely follow. Let’s be clear, your internal sales team isn’t always packaged as such – it can be your employees on the floor everyday, staff directly interacting with customers, your volunteers and even your board of directors.


Published by Christina on June 26, 2012, in Career Advice, Startups

Dream Marketing

Have you met Winter?  She’s a Leonberger. Yes, Leonberger. The name is a derivative of Leonberg, Germany. The breed was created to look like lions in the late 1700’s to guard grand castles and large estates throughout southern Europe. Furthermore, they had a second role: to be a loving and loyal family companion.

In an effort to achieve each trait, multiple breeds were bred with one another, and alas! Perfection was achieved. The cross between a St. Bernard, Great Pyrenees and Newfoundland gave the noble gents their “ideal” dog, and thus the Leonberger was born.

They enjoyed a high social status for many decades and were only owned by those of a high social status. And then, war. These hard working, loyal, loving giants were sent in to horrific battles, and thousands were lost. The depleted population began to grow, when once again, war. By the end of World War II, only a few hundred Leonbergers were left, and the breed began to gently fade away.

In the 1980’s, by chance, a group in Germany united for one simple cause: to repopulate the Leonberger population.

Fast forward to the 1990’s. I was backpacking through Europe after college graduation. After a long bus ride to a very small town in Austria, I visited a tiny church that I vowed would be the place I would be married one day. As I turned to walk down the cobblestone path, daydreaming of love and marriage, I encountered an animal that literally took my breath away. What was it? A small pony? A large dog? No, couldn’t be, with all of that long hair. It was pulling a small carriage. A working animal, no doubt, but what?

An incredible dog, affectionately known by locals as a “Leo.”

Almost two decades later, some dreams faded while a great deal were only yet to be realized. Still, like a faint sound in the background, there was something missing.

It was Winter.

Winter is my Leo, and she’s a gem. I found her through a horse and Leo breeder in Washington: Starfire Farms. Beyond being incredibly high maintenance, stubborn and lazy, she is kind, sensitive, protective, and adores children.

Why am I sharing this story? Because I have repeated it more times in the past four years than I have repeated any other story in my lifetime. Whether at either of our homes, in Truckee or Sausalito, I am asked over and over and over and over: “What kind of dog is this?” A Leonberger.

“Is it a male or female?”  Female.

“How much does she weigh?”  150.

“What is her name?”  Winter.

“Is she protective?”  Yes.

“But friendly?”  Very.

“May my children pet her?”  Of course, she loves children (as she kisses their gorgeous faces).

“Are the males bigger?”  Yes, up to 200+ pounds.

“Wow, so tell me now, what is the combination that makes a Leonberger?” St. Bernard, Newfoundland and Great Pyrenees. They were bred to look like lions at noble estates in the 1700’s.

“Really!  Are they AKC recognized?”  Yes.

“Where do you find them?”  Only about 1,500 in the United States.We recommend Starfire Farms.

“Are they good guard dogs” Let’s put it this way, a stranger will not come up our driveway, and she’ll chase a bear or coyote away for miles.

“May I take a photo?” Of course. (She’s been in thousands by now.)

Why do I reference her as a marketer’s dream? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve relayed the series of questions above, I could pay off my car — twice. Is Winter a beauty like Giselle? Nope. Is she Heidi Klum? German with great hair, long legs, and gorgeous eyes yes — but still not Heidi.

Winter is her own marketing machine. She generates more attention than any person, animal or item that I’ve ever seen. There are no prep teams, designer clothes, or stage photo shoots — nor is there product development, market research, or photo shop.

She is a Leonberger — the purest example of the brand in itself. Winter has charisma, swagger, beauty, and most of all, a loving confidence you simply cannot ignore.

Am I biased? Terribly. Is she really “that big of a deal” when out and about? Give me a jingle and you can take her for a spin. And if you’re really smart, you’ll have her wear your logo on a custom made coat. She’ll take care of the rest.

Truckee Thursday



A Childhood without Nature?

Published by Christina on February 27, 2012, in Career Advice, General

To be honest, a childhood without nature is a concept I cannot grasp. My exposure to the great outdoors was almost immediate and the love almost as instantaneous. Like my parents, I was enchanted by the magic in the air.

Mt. Lassen, 1971

Hiking with Dad, Mt. Lassen 1971

As I grew, the opportunities to play and explore exceeded, as did my partners in these adventures. Whether I was with family or friends, solo or with my beloved canine companion, the outdoors never asked me to be anyone but myself.

This freedom of one’s self and vast opportunity for exploration has been woven into the life of my child as well. His worries lift and his mind wanders as we close the door to our modern day leashes. I wouldn’t trade our regular “chats on the trail” for a million dollars and love nothing more than to watch him wander, off on his own, humming a tune without realizing he’s doing so.

I pray this will be a generational gift, once again bestowed on the next round yet-to-arrive. In the meantime, I encourage you to extend your tethers and give the gift of the outdoors to the children in your life. It will benefit their mind, physical health and create memories that far exceed your expectations.

Sunshine Tahoe is a proud sponsor of “Play Again” on Thursday, March 15. Join us to further learn why this connection is so incredibly important.

Connecting with Nature and One Another, by Nicole Cheslock
Do you know any children who have fewer positive outdoor experiences today than you and your friends did at their age? How has playing in nature and outdoor education impacted your personal and social development? Does social media foster looking inward rather than encouraging teens to become active in the broader, non-virtual community?

These topics and more will be explored at Play Again on Thursday, March 15. With generous support from the KidZone Museum, Sunshine Tahoe, Cooking Gallery and Cedar House Sport Hotel, the event features guest speaker Barbara Schneider, Ph.D. and the first Tahoe-Truckee showing of “Play Again.” In the film, six screen-addicted teens take their first wilderness adventure. We will discuss the overarching question posed by the award winning documentary, “What are the consequences of a childhood removed from nature?”

Play Again
What: What are the consequences of a childhood removed from nature?
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 15
Where: Cedar House Sport Hotel, Truckee, CA
Tickets: $15 advance (available online at nicolecheslock.com), $20 day
of (if available). Includes presentation, film and snack.

About Barbara Schneider, Ph.D.
Guest speaker Barbara Schneider, Ph.D. has spent her professional, academic and parental life exploring the ways that individuals and institutions are changed by and leverage experiences in informal learning environments such as museums, aquaria, parks and their own backyards. Schneider’s work has resulted in numerous grant awards,conference presentations and publications. She taught A History of Methods and Evaluations of Informal Learning Environments at Stanford University where she earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teacher Education. In addition, Barbara has a Master’s degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. She resides in Los Gatos with her husband and two daughters but prefers to be in Truckee
whenever they get the chance. “Being the parent of two active children has proven the best teacher of all,” shares Schneider.

About “Play Again”
Tonje Hessen Schei, co-founder of Ground Productions, is a Norwegian filmmaker who directed “Play Again.” At a time when most children play more behind screens than outside, “Play Again” explores the changing balance between the virtual and natural worlds. The documentary follows teenagers who generally spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens unplug and go outdoors. Through the voices of children and experts (including journalist Richard Louv, sociologist Juliet Schor, environmental writer Bill McKibben, educators Diane Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, neuroscientist Gary Small, parks advocate Charles Jordan and geneticist David Suzuki), “Play Again” explores the role of outdoor play in fostering a sustainable future. Visit
playagainfilm.com for more information.

Nicole Cheslock runs NC Communications, a boutique PR agency serving businesses and nonprofit corporations. She can be reached at (530) 548-5010.

Let’s Not Forget Etiquette

Published by Christina on November 29, 2011, in Career Advice

Tis the season and I couldn’t resist re-posting this particular piece.  Enjoy!

As the holidays approach, I feel this is an ideal time for all of us to take a good look at our individual image and how it rolls into personal as well as business standards.  A great deal of the material I’m presenting can be credited to my grandmother, Myrtle Mae Miller and my mother, Christine Diane Gazaway.  I’d also like to give credit where credit is due so let’s not forget Emily Post.



An invite will provide invitees a clear idea of the type of event being hosted.  For a formal to semi-formal event, a custom invite with or without an RSVP card is highly recommended.  If you do not include an RSVP card, please be sure to provide both a phone number and email address for RSVP’s as well as an RSVP by date.  And for heaven’s sake, please hand address each invite.  I can think of nothing worse than a mailing label on such a special invitation.

For casual to children’s parties, feel free to customize a fold over or postcard invite, perhaps something whimsical that represents the theme of the event.  Making these types of cards at websites such as Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly and Mac (to name only take a few) take little more than a few fun photos, all the relevant details and maybe 30 minutes of your time.  While I’m not a big fan of eInvites, they can save a great deal of time and electronically manager your RSVP list.


At the very least, read your invite and observe the tone your host / hostess has set.  Do you feel you’re part of a large list of people or invited to something a little more intimate?  Your interpretation of this invite is critical as it will intrinsically drive you to take the next steps which should include:  checking your calendar for availability, contacting your significant other and or a date (if appropriate) to join you, planning to purchase and wrap a gift (again, if appropriate) and most importantlyRSVP.


I cannot emphasize the RSVP aspect enough, if someone has gone to the trouble to make you feel important, please take the time to respond to their invitation.  If you do plan to attend, please be on time or within 15 minutes or so of the start time.  If you plan to be over 20 minutes late, please let your host / hostess know in advance and give them a time to expect your arrival.  Often they will wait to raise a glass for a toast, serve a meal or embark on another special part of the party until you arrive.


You always want to look your best for a party, casual or formal.  Put your best foot forward, back to personal branding.  If dressing for the occasion isn’t your forte, ask your significant other, a friend, family member – anyone with fashion sense in your life to help.  To simplify this advice here’s a quick scenario – if you don’t have time to take a shower after the gym and decide to “pop on over” please do everyone a favor and pass on the party itself as it’s obvious to everyone (especially your host or hostess and / or honoree) that the party is not important to you.


If your host / hostess has any special requirements it should be noted within the invite.  Many people are supporting charities or simply asking people not to worry about a gift, either way please take the time to read the fine print and respond accordingly.  Please keep in mind, if this is a shower or engagement type of event, the host or hostess will most likely be available via email or phone to let you know whether or not the honoree is registered and if so, where.  This is a quick and easy way to shop in advance (usually online) and for a little extra money a gift can be wrapped and delivered on your behalf.

As the hostess of many “no gift please” or “charitable” parties, I must admit, a gift for your host / hostess is always a kind gesture.  Flowers, a candle, a nice bottle of wine – all winners (among many others) and a great way to make someone who’s been working incredibly hard to pull of a great event feel absolutely fantastic.

Speaking of feeling fantastic, the last act is the most meaningful and memorable – the thank you note.

Thank You

For the record, sending an email after an event doesn’t qualify as a formal thank you for any sort of occasion above casual.  A personal phone call would be nice but if you’d like to really seal the deal, write a note to the host / hostess and (now don’t fret when you read this) place it in an envelope, address, add a stamp and mail.  If you don’t have nice paper to write a proper thank you note, it sounds like this is something you’ll need to add to your personal and professional repertoire, I recommend starting with Cranes – classic and elegant, always a winner.

Tis the season to make assumptions and as a professional event planner, brand manager and regular hostess, I encourage you to take pause, be considerate and most importantly – be thankful.

Time for a Tune-Up?

Published by Christina on February 28, 2011, in Career Advice


  1. Meet with your marketing team and trusted business-social advisors, and make a few timely decisions by asking yourself tough questions such as:  How many social media accounts are we updating on a regular basis?  How are we measuring their effectiveness?  Is there a perceived value for your target audience to check these announcements and updates?
  2. Sign-up for a course or seminar covering leading-edge trends in your field of expertise.
  3. Secure a speaking engagement—it’s a great opportunity to brush-up on your public speaking skills and at the same time promote your business.
  4. Join a new board of directors for a not-for-profit—you and your business can support or encourage one of your top employees to do so.
  5. Assess your team—focus on their effectiveness with your customers, the health of your leadership, and the overall work environment.
  6. Offer incentives—actions speak louder than words, and a dynamic team is easily incentivized.
  7. Check-in with key customers—take the time to understand their “current affairs” and adjust your business strategies accordingly.
  8. Plan a vacation and encourage your team to do the same.
  9. Focus on your moral and professional health—never assume no one is watching.
  10. Make sure you’re still doing what you love, and if not, put together a realistic strategic plan to help you realize your dreams.

Partnerships, Partnerships, Partnerships

Published by Christina on June 8, 2010, in Career Advice

For all of you who have worked with me professionally, you know I’m a solid advocate of partnership marketing. Teaming up with businesses is an opportunity to extend your brand, enhance sales and, most importantly, offer a higher value of product or service to your customer than many of your competitors.

My latest project, The Richardson House, involves rehabilitating a historic home and converting this house from a neglected B&B to an impeccable private holiday rental. While a very tedious and labor-intensive process — from floor and paint to web design and marketing collateral — every step has involved our local community and an array of unique and creative partnerships.

Our philosophy is to create a sense of community around this prestigious home in the historic district of Truckee, California. She has maintained her glorious position sitting just above town since the 1880s and has gone unscathed through major fires and redevelopment. We knew before we purchased this incredible home that she would never be ours; she would always belongs to Truckee. Our role is nothing short of looking after her, for now, until another generation pulls her under its wing.

Our first decision was to hire a house manager. Given the current economy, we knew the pool of viable candidates would be vast. Little did our house manager know, we had already decided Chelsea was our gal before we wrote the job description. Chelsea Walterscheid is president of the Truckee-Donner Historical Society, a historian by trade and life long resident of Truckee. Who better to manage this historic home than a historian?

Due to Chelsea’s vast network within the community, she brings an incredible array of individuals to the home. Whether bidding on our next project or simply stopping by to say hello, her diverse relationships directly benefit our business.  Contractors want to please Chelsea and share her interest in the home, each of them taking a little bit of ownership of The Richardson House with them after each project.

Much like Chelsea, we had our sights on our caretaker long before we’d closed escrow. Jim Katt is “the man” about town when it comes to landscaping. His thoughtful designs utilizing natural resources were something we’d already experienced at our own home. The yard at The Richardson House had been neglected for many years, and we knew we needed someone with patience and passion to turn this historic eyesore into the gorgeous garden the home — and neighbors — deserve.

As we approached Jim to not only take on the exterior project, we asked that he consider joining our team as caretaker, upon his acceptance we were surprised with his many hidden talents – including a keen eye for paint and design.  Before long, the garden will be in full bloom, and I suspect not only Jim, but also the many friends and fellow landscapers he’s included in this project, will be swelling with pride.

Once we had the right people in place, it was time to dig into the marketing aspect of the business. Creating a new brand is an exciting process, although personally, very difficult for me upon the onset. Because I have the wonderful privilege of knowing so many incredible marketers and designers, choosing one agency or individual was tough. After a great deal of thought I knew the individual creating our brand would need to fit into our community partner philosophy. We needed someone who would visit the house, proudly point it out to friends and family, and ‘own’ the brands look and feel throughout the region.  Cesar Lopez of New Leaders was our man.

Cesar spent countless hours at the house: attending marketing meetings, admiring her rehabilitation, directing photo shoots, and simply getting a feel for her presence and vibe. Over the past four months, Cesar has become yet another one of the homes’ tenders, in his own special way.

To reinforce our vision of sharing The Richardson House with the community, we’ve created another infrastructure to enhance partnerships. Local and regional not-for-profits have been invited to use her for board meetings and/or special planning sessions. She’s quickly grown into the hearts of Trails and Vistas, Custom Learning Academy, and the Truckee Donner Land Trust. The list continues to grow each and every week.

As private holiday home rental remains a key component of our marketing effort, we went to a few of our favorite local businesses and asked if they would become a business partner by enhancing the “Truckee” experience for our guests. After a resounding  “Yes,” to those we asked, we were able to produce the Truckee Experience Card for all Richardson House guests. Guest benefits extend to specialty stores and restaurants all within walking vicinity and include:

–       A complimentary dog cookie at Scraps Dog Bakery

–       A free bath soap from Riverstone – Home, Gift and Garden

–       A mimosa with breakfast – on the house – Squeeze In Truckee

–       A “Relaxing” tea bag with any $10 purchase – Truckee Tea Company

–       A vino and cheese sampler – Moody’s Bistro & Lounge

–       ½ off your second burger – Burger Me

In addition, our guests will have the comfort of knowing that a portion of the proceeds from each stay will directly benefit the Truckee-Donner Historical Society and Truckee Donner Land Trust. The Richardson House is also a member of The BEAR League and the Sky Sponsor for Trails and Vistas 2010.

In five months, we’ve proudly partnered with at least two-dozen businesses and individuals in our community.  This process can be time consuming as a business owner or manager and certainly requires diligence, as you only want to work with businesses and organizations that support your mission, enhance your brand, and will take excellent care of your customers and employees. In my opinion though, partnerships are worth the effort, and the benefits will long out-way a short campaign or half-hearted PR push.  They grow out of mutual respect and can far exceed their immediate benefits if carefully nurtured and honestly represented.

I encourage you to look at the partnerships you already have and examine how they might be enhanced.  From there, look outside of the box and see where you can creatively bring in additional partners to enhance your product or service for your customers. It’s certainly worth the effort.

Take a Stand

Published by Christina on May 3, 2010, in Career Advice, Startups

The Richardson House is the first private rental home in the Tahoe Basin to work with The BEAR League to incorporate Bear Aware principles into our rental contract.  If our guests act in an irresponsible manner (leaving food out overnight, leaving trash outside – open, taunting bears for photos and the like) they will receive a $250 fine.  The majority of this fine will go back to The BEAR League.  Not only do we want to ensure our guests are good neighbors, we feel it’s important to wholeheartedly support The BEAR League and their incredible efforts to ensure a safe and cohesive environment for both the people and bears living together in the mountains.

Our contract:

Dear Richardson House Guest,

Please enjoy all the beautiful gifts nature has to offer. Our neighborhood hosts beautiful birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, deer, coyotes, and one of our favorite creatures – “Ben,” the black bear.

Ben, like all of our area bears, established our neighborhood as his stomping ground many years ago.  As Ben is quite shy, he likes to roam around at night, when all is quiet and calm.  He is, however, a sly one and can sense as much as a stick of gum in your car.  In an effort to look after our valued guests – and our neighborhood bear –we ask that you practice “Bear Aware” rules of conduct while in our home:

  • Prior to retiring in the evening, please be sure all outdoor spaces are free of food and garbage (porch, yard, and driveway).  In addition, make sure all windows on the first floor are closed and locked.
  • All garbage needs to be placed in the bear box garbage (raccoons also love a late night snack and tend to make quite a mess).   To ensure a proper closure, make sure you hear the latch lock.
  • Turn gas BBQ to high for five minutes to burn all food particles after use.
  • Maintain a “food free” vehicle when parked anywhere in the Sierra Nevada area.

Since Ben does not rely on The Richardson House (due to your good practices and those before and after you), we have no reason to fear his presence.  To ensure community safety, The Richardson House imposes a $250 fine on any guests not adhering to “Bear Aware” practices.  This fee will be immediately charged on your account if our house manager, caretaker, owner, or neighbors witness such errors.

If you hear Ben sneaking around in the wee hours of the evening, and if you feel, for any reason, uncomfortable or uncertain about his presence, The BEAR League is available to you 24-hours a day: 530-525-7297.  In addition, your house caretaker resides in the carriage house behind you and will be quick to assist with ANY issue or concern you may have.

If you encounter any bear while in our area, do not be afraid or submissive.  Let him know you are there; make eye contact but do not stare; pick-up small children and keep them calm; and most importantly, appreciate the experience and move on with respect and self confidence.

Thank you for being our guest and a great neighbor while enjoying The Richardson House.


Chelsea Walterscheid
House Manager

The Role of the Goal

Published by Christina on November 30, 2009, in Career Advice, Recent Projects

Set the stage for its successful role in your event

Admittedly, I’m typically the first person in the room to remain a bit skeptical when presented with a new program.  All the type A attributes of my personality kick-in, and I’m instantly rationalizing every aspect:  “Does this support our mission?” “How much will this cost?”  “How many resources will we need?”  “What other programs will suffer when we shift resources?” “Who will lead to ensure success?” And most importantly, “What is the goal?”

You see, when it comes to business, without a goal, I’m like a bear without paws – incapable of survival.

With that said, I was leery when the idea of putting forth a fundraiser for Trails and Vistas continued circulating our meetings. We loosely tossed around concepts at meetings, without a real commitment to a feasible idea or actual program.  Due to the lack of resources, enthusiasm, and mass competition in the community, we continued to table the idea.

During this period, I was enjoying my time as a docent for the Old Jail Museum. The Truckee Donner Historical Society is close to my heart, and I love sharing stories of Truckee’s colorful history with those who curiously walk through the Old Jail Museum doors. Oddly enough, as a docent I’m also a recipient of many of their own stories, several of which have been hard to forget.

This year’s winner was the young man who went on and on about his private “ghost” tour of The Truckee Hotel. As it went, a friend told him stories over drinks. The friend knew someone else who took the group of friends over to the Truckee Hotel for a private tour. As the young man’s words continued, an idea gelled in my mind.

After a few weeks, I was able to create a concept behind my vision. In my mind, it fit:  Trails and Vistas is known as an “experience” type of event, while the Truckee Donner Historical Society is known as a historical “informant.” Combining history with an experience, as it has in the past, makes perfect sense. After a pitch to Nancy Lopez, our Trails and Vistas Executive Director, and then our board of directors, I was given the go-ahead to present the idea to the Truckee Donner Historical Society. I was elated. They loved the concept, mutually agreed upon the goals, and were more than happy to share the funds. Their quick ability to recognize the significance of the event, the opportunity to raise money, and a commitment to put what little resources they could forward, made my decision to produce the event on their behalf easy – even though we only had five weeks on the books to make it happen. (I’ll write another blog on “How to combat event induced heartburn” at a later date).

With that said, we agreed upon the following goals:

  • Position the Historical Haunted Tour as one of the season’s most talked about events by providing a unique and engaging experience to our attendees.
  • Create public awareness of Truckee’s historical gems, and promote preservation.
  • Produce an annual, sell-out event.
  • Capture additional funding opportunities by enhancing silent auction items and/or sponsor donations.
  • Expand next year’s Tour into a larger, late-summer event with a broader spectrum of sponsors.
  • Create a solid foundation for long-term growth through this unique and thoughtful partnership.
"Do I let them out or keep'em in?

"Do I let them out or keep'em in?

Due to the hard and diligent work of Nancy Lopez, Chelsea Waltershire (president of the Truckee Donner Historical Society), Judy Dunlap (past president of the Truckee Donner Historical Society) and our numerous volunteers, we not only achieved these tangible goals for this year, we were able to surpass several.  Their constant presence in our day-to-day communications helped each of us remain focused as our concept grew into a full-fledged event.

I had the great pleasure of greeting our guests as they returned, each and every one saying they couldn’t wait until next year.  Our dear attendees, neither can we!  Thank you for your support.

A special thanks to:

Eileen Lewis, Helen Heindel, Lisa Robertson, Colleen Dalton, Cindy Maciel, Nancy Lopez and Chelsea Walterscheid, who were tour guides in period dress, escorting attendees through The Kruger White House, The Old Jail Museum, The Pour House, The Truckee Hotel and The Pharmacy. These businesses kindly donated their places for the performances.

"Our fantastic volunteers"

"Our fantastic volunteers"

Jane Pedrazzini, Mark Brown, Jean Fournier and Reina Markheim, who took on personalities from the past and related spooky happenings and famous hauntings at the sites. Guests enjoyed wine and music by Ian Ethan Case and Chris Waltz in the beautiful surroundings of the Kruger White House.

The evening included a successful silent auction, put together by Judy Dunlap and raising nearly $3,000 for the two nonprofits. The money raised will be used to purchase archiving software for the Old Jail Museum and new computers and online research tools for the Historical Society’s Joseph Research Library.

A big hug to my father, Kurt Breitwieser, who, had less than eight hours to prepare for his docent role at The Pour House; although, I suspect the “ladies” at his site helped calm his nerves and enhanced the experience for all.  You’re a trooper, Dad!  Delighted you answered my call…

Dad and the ladies telling tall tales at The Pour House

Dad and the ladies telling tall tales at The Pour House

Attendee comments:

Great tour, the docents were entertaining, especially the first woman in the basement.   Enjoyed seeing historic sites previously not visited. – Anonymous

Awesome! Exceeded my expectations!  – Katie S.

Not just great fun, but very informative. Wonderful costumes! – Gordon S.

What a wonderful event that showcases our rich history and character here in Truckee. Fun and educational, so proud to live here!  Jenny F.

This was excellent, I can’t wait until the 2nd annual!  – Grant P.

And a special shout-out to both Kira at Moonshine Ink http://moonshineink.com/articles.php/68/1515 and Amy at Sierra Sun http://www.sierrasun.com/article/2009911179986 for their great coverage.

A great evening to gather with good friends...

A great evening to gather with good friends...

Are You Committed?

Published by Christina on October 29, 2009, in Career Advice

Not-for-Profit Board of Directors

My first experience serving on a board of directors (BOD) was in the early 90’s.  While attending the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business I was elected president of the collegiate chapter American Marketing Association BOD.  It was the first of many enlightening, challenging and downright political experiences I’ve enjoyed on a board over the past fifteen plus years.

With the drastic changes in the economy as of late, I’ve been witnessing an interesting paradigm shift in the world of not-for-profit boards. Businesses and organizations have access to fewer grants and sponsorships, while donations are on a decline. Board and committee members are now busier than ever trying to meet the demands of their current employers.

Individuals seem perpetually challenged in their genuine effort to be an active part of their family, a valued employee or business owner and a committed community citizen.  Taking on a board position can sometimes tip the scale to the point of overload, especially given all the help most boards are seeking as of late.

Although many of you may believe this is a good time to lessen your commitments outside of home, I would like to encourage you to reconsider (with a few caveats, of course).  By doing so you will reap many personal and professional rewards, including but not limited to:

Networking with dynamic and passionate individuals

Showcasing your professional talents

Introducing your product or service

Enabling your family, friends and colleagues to participate in your efforts and events


With that said, I must throw caution to the wind.  Part of being on a board is taking responsibility for your commitment.  Taking the time to have a full understanding of what is expected of you PRIOR to taking on such a position is a necessity.  I recommend a private meeting with the Executive Director as well as a separate, in-person or phone meeting with several current members of the board you are considering joining.  Make sure it’s a fit for you from both a personal and professional standpoint.

In honor of a few of my favorite executive directors, I thought I’d share a few personal tips in the realm of professional “boarding” –

Read your bylaws once a year, understand your role and embrace your responsibility.

Attend meetings, contribute to relevant conversation and follow through on your commitments.

Network.  If you have a caterer on your board, let them bid on your next event.

Inspire others; bring a positive attitude to your BOD meetings.

Share your creative ideas and solutions, however be prepared to help implement these concepts.

Do not join a BOD if you are not committed to donating your professional expertise, personal (non business) time and financial resources.

Do not join a BOD if their regular meetings take place at a time you know will not work for you.

Do not join a BOD if you are doing a friend a favor and otherwise have no interest.

Do not join a BOD if your first conversation with the Executive Director outlines all of the responsibilities you will not be able to fulfill (translation – if you need ample exceptions compared to the rest of the BOD, it’s not a good time to join).

Do not join a BOD if you are in-between jobs.  Although it can be a great resume builder, your best intent can fall short if a new employer has other plans for your time.  Instead, join a committee and take on a short-term project.  Showcase your professional skills to your fellow committee members and BOD, it may help you land your next great job.

Do not resign without helping your executive director find your replacement, while not a “law” in the bylaw section, it’s a common and well-practiced courtesy.

Do not burnout your executive director, if this individual is overloaded with new programs and strategies your current goals and objectives will surely suffer.

If you’re currently a board member and feel you may be guilty of a few of the “do not’s,” please don’t fret.  Now is as good of time as any to reanalyze your role.  Perhaps it’s a good time to light your fire and “jump in” to the next meeting by acknowledging your absence to your fellow board members and make a personal commitment of tangible time and resources to your board from this point on?  Or maybe you could surprise the group with an unexpected holiday contribution of cash, in-kind services, or relevant goods?  Or perhaps it’s simply time to acknowledge the reality that life has you otherwise preoccupied and it’s time for you to find a super star to step-in and fill your role.

Whatever choice you make as a board member moving forward, I encourage you to make it count.  Being invited to join a board is a tremendous compliment as well as an opportunity, savor your role, have fun and whatever you do – don’t let your board down.