Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Non-Profits Why Not Enlist A Social Media Army?

Social media can be a non-profit organizations dream. A relatively new, basically free venue to create awareness, cultivate relationships, and enlist a social media army.

That's right, enlist a social media army. The beauty of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media platforms is that you can spread your message, connect with individuals and create calls to action.

So why not increase your awareness. Instead of voicing your message all alone, why not enlist some of your volunteers who are using social media and ask them to help you create awareness. It could work similar to this old Faberge Shampoo commercial.

This could be a great way to update your speaker's bureau. Using the Internet is a great way to reach a brand new target market.

Before enlisting your army, make sure you select volunteers you know well and have a good relationship with. In order to control the message and keep brand consistency create a daily key message and send to your army. They can then tweet your message, add it to their Facebook page or to any other social media platform they use. Be sure to add your organizations web site in your message to give the recipient a place to find more information.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Now Non-Profits & Small Business Can Create a PSA or Promotional Video

Non-profits and small businesses have extremely small marketing budgets. Because of this a promotional video or public service announcement always seems to fall on the wish list. Not anymore!

Recently I discovered Animoto. The TasteCasting group has been using it for awhile to create promotional videos for restaurants who held a tasting, and at PodCamp a couple weeks ago I attended a session on using Aminoto to create great video to embed into your website.

Animoto turns your images, text and music into really great videos. They offer a free pro accounts to non-profit organizations! You could use video to bring motion and emotion to your cause for outreach, fundraising, and connecting. They also have incredibly low prices that small businesses can even afford. Not only reasonable but easy to use!

As an example, I created a FREE 30 second video from Animoto for columbus imPRessions. Check it out! Happy video production!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Make Monday Morning A Little Easier

Caribou Coffee's latest email campaign - Happy Monday. Thought I'd share the love!

2009 Caribou Coffee Company, Inc. Valid at participating Caribou Coffee stores only. Offer valid on Mondays only, no exceptions. Offer valid on Caribou Blend coffee only. No coupon necessary. Not valid on bottled beverages. No other offers can be used in conjunction with the Happy Monday prices.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Philanthropy Friday Behind the Scenes with Mid-Ohio Foodbank

This Behind the Scenes Spotlight features non-profit organization Mid-Ohio Foodbank. You can read my feature on this wonderful organization at Columbus Underground.

Mid-Ohio Foodbank helps so many different people, even those who never thought they'd need it.

That leads me to Craig's story. Craig represents the type of new faces being seen at pantries not just in Columbus, but across our state and nation: he’s a middle class individual with two grown daughters who has worked all his life and been hit with a major layoff that has changed his life.

Having worked without interruption for the last 17 years, this is a tough spot for him to be in, and he’s one of many people who are accessing emergency food assistance for the first time. “I was living a good life…I had a budget and it worked, until all of a sudden they give you that paper that says, ‘we don’t need you for awhile,’ and your pay gets cut in half…and it doesn’t work anymore.”

Craig is 54-years-old and acknowledges that in this tight job market, it’s hard to compete with younger workers. The part-time job he recently found was also affected by layoffs, and so twice in one year, he has lost two jobs. He keeps a log of the places he contacts for work, but with few companies hiring, nothing has turned up. Says Craig: “The cold reality rolls in…you’re poor now.” “Like most Americans, I just never thought this would happen.”

Craig is not alone. Forty-nine percent of people served by Mid-Ohio Foodbank's partner agencies have had to choose between food and utilities. Twenty-nine percent have had to choose between food and shelter.

Since March, Mid-Ohio Foodbank has ramped up their efforts to raise awareness about local hunger through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. They know these platforms offer unique opportunities to reach a new group of supporters in a place where many people are already spending a majority of their time - online.

You can follow Mid-Ohio Foodbank on Facebook here.
You can follow Mid-Ohio Foodbank on Twitter here.
See their on-line campaign, "Campaign to Sustain" from Resource Interactive here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kelly Gingery, the Mix Flick Chick and so much More

In yesterday's post I mentioned being invited to the screening of My Sister's Keeper by Mix Flick Chick, Kelly Gingery. I met Kelly a few months back through TasteCasting and became fast friends. So fast that once we realized her son and my daughter were the same age we began selecting the cake for their wedding. No, we weren't seriously arranging a marriage, we were just having a lighthearted conversation as we enjoyed a delicious casada cupcake during the tasting at the Suisee Shop Bakery. She's actually like a sister from another mother, at least that's what we say.

Over the last few months some really exciting things have happened to Kelly and to celebrate the accomplishments I thought it would be fun to get the exclusive scoop on Columbus' new, up and coming Hollywood guru! I wanted to find out where her love of movies developed as well her thoughts on some other movie related topics. If you know Kelly you know the interview will be very entertaining! So grab a bucket of popcorn and enjoy!

CI: When Did You Start To Love Movies?

KG: My dad was a complete movie-lover as a young boy growing up in small-town Michigan. He loves to share stories about riding his bike into town on a Saturday to pay a nickel to see a double-feature and three shorts. He would spend all day in the movie theater, watching any kind of movie: Westerns , Science Fiction, Costume Drama. He loved them all. Then he would ride over to the drug store and help unload the magazine truck so he could sit and read all of the movie magazines and newspapers.

Basically, he transferred all of that movie love to me, and I willingly lapped it up. I totally got the movie-lover gene, as I too could sit in a theater all day, watching flicks back-to-back and then head over to the book store to read movie magazines and books. Whoa…that's a seriously perfect day.

So….my dad would take me to movies as a kid. Not "kid" movies, just movies. All sorts of movies. Some that I'm sure a lot of parents would not deem appropriate for a kid my age. Probably the first one that I remember seeing with him that really made a strong impression on me was "Casablanca." I think I was about 10 at the time. I loved it and developed a huge crush on Humphrey Bogart and wanted to be like Ingrid Bergman. Seriously, when I think back on it now, it sounds crazy. I'm 10-years-old and fascinated with a classic tale of a broken-down nightclub owner, his lost true love and the Nazi occupation in Europe during World War II. Whoa, "Here's lookin' at you kid."

I must admit though, I'm so glad that my dad took me to "adult" films, not just kid flicks. It truly fostered the movie-lover in me, my crazy trivia knowledge and the film appreciation that I have today.

I'm continuing the tradition by passing on the movie-loving gene to my teenage daughter Kate. She is so like me with trivia knowledge and a love of all things movies and entertainment. She too loves to go to the movie theater and thinks nothing of seeing movies back-to-back. Needless to say, I'm thrilled.

CI: What Genre of Movie Do You Like Best?

KG: Wow, that's a hard question for a movie-lover like me….but I would probably have to say: Musical.

I love, love, love all of the old MGM musicals from the 40's and 50's. I love nuthin' better than to see a gorgeous guy and gal singin' and dancin' while falling in love. Oh man, I'm a sucker for that. I love the "That's Entertainment" movies because they are basically crack for a musical-lover. I remember seeing the first "That's Entertainment" with my dad, and then afterward we got dinner and we talked about all of those flicks, because obviously….he had seen most of them in the theater when he was young.

I'm a frustrated hoofer at heart, so I love all of the stories about singers and dancers tryin' to put on a show and young lovers fallin' in love and then being kept apart by circumstances….all the while they are singin' and dancin' their hearts out. Just writing about this flicks now makes me want to dig some out and have a musical marathon.

Some of my favorite musicals are: Good News with June Alyson and Peter Lawford, On the Town with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, High Society with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra and of course Singin' In The Rain with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.

CI: Favorite Movie of All Time

KG: I get asked this question a lot…..and I can never really answer it with one flick. It's like asking a chef what their favorite dish is….so many wonderful choices, for so many different reasons. However, if I have to choose just one, I will say High Society with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. I just love the story, the stars, the era, the setting, the songs and the dancing. I want Grace to get back together with Bing Crosby but I also want her to end up with Frank Sinatra. The scenes with Grace and Frank are so sweet and romantic. She looks so beautiful throughout and Bing and Frank have wonderful scenes and songs together as well. All of the elements separately are great and put together, they are truly exceptional.

CI: Who is your favorite actor/actress?

KG: This is another hard question because I have so many favorites.

I'm going to choose from the past & present.

Actor Past- Jimmy Stewart - I love him in everything and really feel like what you see on the screen is the man he really was and that is so great.

Actor Present - Russell Crowe - I will watch him in anything. I think that he is fearless and great and a little bit crazy….and that's what makes him so appealing.

Actress Past - Grace Kelly - I just love her….she was so beautiful to watch and could play drama, musicals, suspense, light comedy. She gave up her career so early to get married to the Prince of Monaco….I would have loved to have seen what parts she would have chosen as she got older.

Actress Present - Rachel McAdams - Like Grace Kelly, she is beautiful and lovely to watch and can play drama, comedy, romance, thriller, etc. I never think that I am watching Rachel McAdams….she always totally becomes the character for me and I love that. She is one to watch, for sure.

CI: What is your favorite movie snack

KG: I am a traditionalist…..Big tub of buttered popcorn with lots of salt and an ice cold Coca-Cola. I NEVER eat candy at the movies. Popcorn and Coke all the way, baby.

CI: What do you think of brand product placement in movies?

KG: I don't really have much of an opinion on brand product placement in movies. I notice brands sometimes….obviously, more if it is not very subtle. It doesn't bother me, as long as it feels natural. I probably have wanted to purchase clothing or accessories that I've seen in films, much more so than an actual product someone used or food or drink consumed. I say go for it….I totally get that it helps get your name and product in front of a huge group of consumers. Like I said, as long as it doesn't feel forced, I don't have a problem with it.

CI: How many DVD's do you have?

KG: I have no clue….I have tons and tons of VHS movies, and many, many DVD's. I would say over 200 VHS and probably over 100 DVD's. I'm not so much into owning movies….because I am OK with getting them at Blockbuster (yes, I used to work there back in the day and was employee of the month once. It was like an alcoholic working in a bar, by the way!), taking them out of the library or getting them from Netflix. I do own my favorites for sure….and then most of the others I have received as hand-me-downs from my dad…from his connections from his days working in the video rental industry.

CI: Celebrating the Oscars must be a big deal for you. What do you do to celebrate?

KG: Celebrating the annual Oscar telecast is a HUGE deal for me. It all started when I was a kid. Back then ( the early 70's)….there obviously weren't all of the television entertainment new shows like Entertainment Tonight and Extra. Obviously, there wasn't the Internet as well. Really, to see my favorite movie stars just as themselves, not in a role….the only way was once a year at the Oscars, that was really it. I also devoured fan magazines for this reason….one of my faves back then was Rona Barrett's Hollywood. Oh man did I love the glossy full-color pix and all of the gossip! Crack, I tell ya….crack.

Anyways….so I would bargain with my parents so I could stay up to watch the Oscars. Back then, it was always on a Monday night. Basically, they were gonna let me stay up anyways….but I had to come home from school and take a nap. Right….like I actually got any sleep that afternoon. I was so excited, what a sham that was. Anyways, that's how my love of the Oscars started….and it continues to this day. Now with E! and the Internet and Oscar polls and websites and red carpets and……you get the drift, it's crazy and I LOVE it all.

When I lived and worked in Los Angeles in the late 80's…TV coverage of the red carpet before the Oscars was only done locally back then. Joan and Melissa hadn't even started yet. The rest of the country didn't even really know or care about the Oscar red carpet interviews before the awards….it was only shown on the local LA channels, because that is an industry town and it was celebrating their industry. It wasn't until later that they finally figured out that other movie-lovers around the world would totally get into that too. And then the whole designer dress stuff hit, and they got a taste of the action and it just blew up from there. When Joan Rivers started asking starlets "Who are you wearing?"…..that really began the advent of the current red carpet events that we know today.

Back to my living in LA…..as you probably know, the Oscars are held at 5 pm LA time, 8 pm Eastern. My good friend and boss at King World, Teri Schaffer (Who later became a head writer/producer of "The Bernie Mac Show") and I would sneak out of work early and go to my apartment (which was 2 blks. away) and watch the red carpet arrivals and interviews and then watch the Oscar telecast. Oh man, it was so much fun making fun of everyone's outfits and ooohing and ahhing over the stars.

I've always watched the show since then, but 3 years ago I began to hold an annual Oscar Night Party….with guests in movie-themed costumes and Oscar-themed food and party games….the whole deal. It is so much fun and my friends and family really get into it. I have everyone fill out an Oscar ballot and we play movie trivia and "Guess that Oscar Dress" and I give out all sorts of fun movie-related prizes. The first year, I just wore an Oscar-type formal gown with a blonde Marilyn Monroe wig.

The following year I represented Best Supporting Actress nominee Meryl Streep and the Oscar-nominated flick, "The Devil Wears Prada." I wore a red devil costume (complete with horns and a pitchfork), carried a big, fake red Prada handbag and wore a nametag that said: Prada.. I also once represented Oscar-nominated Best Actress Cate Blanchett, and wore a period Queen Elizabeth costume, complete with crown, period jewels and a big hoop skirt. It was definitely crazy serving food and playing games that year in the skirt. But it was sure fun. I truly love having the Oscar night parties, and usually start planning them a month or so beforehand.

CI: You were recently named 107.9 Mix Flick Chick. Tell Me About The Mix Flick Chick Gig

KG: I am currently the "Mix Flick Chick" for local Columbus radio station WVMX-FM, Mix 107.9. I discuss movies with morning drive DJ Mark Dantzer every Tuesday and Friday morning, around 8:00 am. Tuesdays we discuss new DVD releases and Fridays we talk about the new flicks that are coming out in the theaters that weekend.

I actually heard about the gig through a friend on Twitter who knew about my love of the movies, and thought I would be a good fit for the gig. She told me that DJ Mark Dantzer was tweeting that he was looking for a "Mix Flick Chick"…..someone who liked movies and knew about them, but wasn't your typical movie reviewer.

I think that some people (including Anna, the friend from Twitter) had read the movie blog that I have been writing for about 2 and a half years, "Movie Lovers Only."

When I heard about their search, I immediately went to the station website to fill out an application and then began to "follow" Mark Dantzer on Twitter and "Friend" him and the station on Facebook. I even sent him an email, to the address given on the station website.

I tried not to be too crazy, but I wanted the gig and I was VERY persistent. Luckily, that wacky persistence paid off and Mark Dantzer called me one morning and asked if he could tape a short interview with me on the air and they would let me know their decision in a few days. After a week, I emailed Mark again and within the hour, he called to tell me that I had gotten the gig….I was the new "Mix Flick Chick"! I was thrilled, Mark is so nice and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Mix 107.9 currently has a "Mix Flick Chick" Blog Page for me on their station website (they pull stuff from my "Movie Lovers Only" blog, and they upload a podcast of my weekly segments with Mark.

CI: You also recently started writing on More.com. Tell Me About the MORE magazine gig.

KG: I am currently a "Guest Writer" for the newly revamped MORE magazine website (more.com). I contribute a short piece to them about every 1 to 2 weeks. It is featured in the "Passions" section, in the "Movies" category.

This opportunity came to me in a roundabout way. I will try to be brief (NOT my strong suit, obviously!)

Over the past few years, as I began to write my movie blog….I also became an avid reader of other movie blogs and websites. A little over a year ago, my sister Julie told me about a movie blog that she read about in MORE magazine called "Women & Hollywood". Julie and I are both huge fans of MORE magazine, and it's coverage of interesting people and topics for women over 40. I checked it out and immediately became a big fan of the "Women & Hollywood" blog and it's writer, Melissa Silverstein. She is based in New York and really covers issues and films regarding women that almost no other blogs or sites cover. It has a definite feminist slant, but there is humor and a lot of great info on upcoming films and television about women.

The entertainment industry is dominated by men, and most movie reviewers and bloggers are men as well. Needless to say, it was very refreshing to get the female point of view. I began to comment a lot on her blog and then we shared emails back and forth as well. I eventually had the chance to meet Melissa at the annual BlogHer conference in San Francisco that I attended last summer. It was really great to meet and talk with someone with a shared interest in all things movies and Hollywood. After our meeting, Melissa put a link to my blog on her site's blogroll. I had a link to her site on my blog as well.

Fast forward to just over one month ago -- I received an email asking if I would be interested in being a guest writer for the redesigned MORE magazine website. It was from Pati Greco, one of the magazine's editors, who was working on the website reboot as well. She asked me to email her if I was interested, I did and then we had a phone conversation about what they were looking for.

It seems that Patti was familiar with Melissa and her "Women & Hollywood" blog (Melissa had been featured in MORE) and she was looking for guest writers and started checking out Melissa's blogroll. Pati said that she had checked out my blog and liked my "voice" and wanted me to write about movies for their site. They weren't looking for fact-heavy, informational-type pieces….they really wanted more personal, opinion pieces.

Needless to say, I was completely taken by surprise and over-the-moon thrilled. Patti asked if I could contribute something weekly and basically said that I could write about whatever I wanted regarding movies. The topics and content were completely up to me, they would only be editing me for grammar (than goodness!). My first thought? Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming!

So, I am now a Guest Writer on the MORE magazine website, with a complete contributor's profile and headshot with my posts. I currently have submitted three pieces and I'm working on my fourth to be posted this week. My writing for them is obviously about movies and Hollywood from a female perspective, with a definitely humorous slant.

I really started all of this blogging craziness way back when just to send the blog out to my girlfriends to make them laugh. I began writing about wacky things in Hollywood and the crazy outfits on the Red Carpet, added my own wacky sense of humor and a lot of pictures….and it just evolved into what it is today.

The fact that I am now talking about this stuff on the radio two mornings a week and submitting my crazy thoughts to a major magazine's website? Oh boy, it blows my mind. I'm having serious big fun and I truly smile about it every single day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Screening of My Sister's Keeper: My Thoughts and Review

Last night I was invited by 107.9's Mix Flick Chick, Kelly Gingery, to the screening of My Sister's Keeper. Seeing the movie trailer, I couldn't wait to see the movie even though I knew I would have to bring my tissues.

I didn't read the book so I didn't have any preconceived ideas. I did know I would not be disappointed especially when I saw the cast, Cameron Diaz, Jason Patrick, Alec Baldwin and Abigail Breslin.

I loved the movie, sure I cried, but I laughed too. I also was deeply touched by the situation of what pediatric cancer, or any child life-threatening illness, does to the entire family. Maybe it's because I was involved with and worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for years and met many wish families. They even mentioned Make-A-Wish for a brief moment in the movie which was a little surprising.

Actually mentioning Make-A-Wish wasn't surprising, it was more of how and when it was mentioned. It was in a scene when all hope was lost. Everyone knew there wasn't anything else they could do for Kate so the oncologist had the mother talk to a social worker. She was trying to get the mother to face the inevitable and actually asked if they ever considered a "Make-A-Wish".

Being the former "brand police" for the foundation, instinctively my red flags went up because it implied this was a last dying wish for a terminal child. This is totally opposite of what the foundation does. Make-A-Wish is about hope and joy, and many children heal and live long, full lives. The terminal label is a brand misnomer I dealt with daily.

I wish all people could see what Make-A-Wish does for families. I will never forget the times I would visit a wish family. Walking in the house everyone was reserved, sad, confused and the mood was often very heavy. After a few moments talking about a wish the mood lightened, families would smile and happiness would enter the room. Thinking about it, I probably was one of the few people that delivered good news at a time when so much bad news was given. The thought of the wish provided hope and happiness at a time when a family needed it most. It really made me feel like a fairy godmother at times.

In My Sister's Keeper there was a beach scene. It wasn't Kate's wish but Kate really wanted to go to the beach. Knowing how important it was to his daughter, her dad took her out of the hospital to give her that experience. For me, this scene was so incredibly powerful and touching. It reminded me of what a wish does for a family. For a moment, Kate felt healthy, the family laughed, played and lived in the moment. It was a respite from stress and heartache and was pure joy and love. Without formally being her wish, it was essentially Make-A-Wish.

I loved the movie and was amazed at how it made me miss Make-A-Wish. Not my days of working there and the office politics, but the pure essence and power of the mission. It also made me incredibly thankful that for years I was able to be a part of helping families feel complete and unforgettable joy. It was complete and unforgettable for me too and I'm so glad this movie reminded me of that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is It Possible to Brand Too Well?

Yes it is very important to create a solid brand, with thoughtful strategy and effective marketing. But is there such a thing as branding too well? This is something I have recently been struggling with as columbus imPRessions.

I know, practice, consult, suggest, that in order to have a solid brand you need a definition, clear and consistent messaging, specific standards and values. I also know that by doing this your brand will foster credibility, invoke motivation and secure loyalty.

That's all great. But, yes there is a but, I also know that above everything else perception is reality. Trust me, I've learned that one the hard way over the years.

So here is my dilemma . . . I believe I have built a very strong brand with columbus imPRessions. I have strategically and thoughtfully created its every facet. It's one that I firmly stand behind and am very proud of. However, I am quickly learning that the perception of my brand is that I am a medium-sized agency, which I am not.


columbus imPRessions is a sole proprietorship, which obviously means it is just me. Almost daily I am being contacted by people "looking for work at my agency". Or, when someone meets me they immediately tell me they thought my agency was much bigger.


I'm not sure if this is good or not. At first I was flattered and it made me think I have a pretty strong brand. Now I'm wondering if I might have branded too well.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as branding too well? Any suggestions/comments you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's Up With Retro Oreo & Ritz Boxes at Target?

I have to admit, I am a frequent Target shopper. It's a store that no matter what's on my list I come out with about 5-10 extra things that I never planned on buying. A few weeks ago when I was in the store I couldn't help but notice the new Ritz and Oreo boxes.

At first I thought both brands had a simple, retro redesign until I noticed the boxes were unchanged at other stores. This left me wondering why until one of my favorite new website, The Dieline, a package design website, informed me that the new boxes were a Target exclusive summer promotion.

I'm not too sure I love the design idea. I like the simplicity, but looking at them on the shelf my first reaction was a generic, cheap product.

This Target only promotion prompted a lot of questions:
  • Who pays for this promotion - Target or Nabisco?
  • What are the benefits of exclusive store packaging? Does having a unique brand for just one store really work?
  • What is the goal of this promotion?
  • Will it really sell more cookies and crackers and will people know they came from Target, or even care they came from Target.
  • Does exclusive store packaging make you want to go to the store because of the special packaging?

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Even though I pick up extra items at Target each time I shop, I did not buy the exclusive Ritz Crackers or Oreo Cookies. Maybe the Target packaging didn't make a strong enough imPRession on me. On the other hand, it made me curious enough to research it and make a post about it. Hmmm.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Give It Your Best Emeril . . . BAM!

Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagassee is celebrating 10 years of his product line.  In order to create a Bang Up Celebration, or should I say BAM Up Celebration, a digital marketing campaign and contest called "Show Us Your Bam" was launched this week.

Up for grabs, a trip to New York City, free food, and various prizes.  How do you win?  Just create an original video of your best Emeril impersonation and then get people to vote for you. Contest ends August 15th.  Let me know if you enter so I can see you video. You just might get my vote.

Emeril also has a foundation that supports non-profit organizations that provide educational programs, life skills development, culinary training, and cultural enrichment to create opportunities in the communities where Emeril has restaurants.  Through his foundation Emeril hopes to inspire, mentor and enable children.   Way cool!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Abercrombie & Fitch To Ruehl No More

After months of struggling, Abercrombie & Fitch's Ruehl brand will be history after only five years.  It was announced yesterday that 29 stores across the country will be closing by the end of the year. The brand's target demographic was supposed to be the 22-35 year old, college grad. Yet the brand never gained a strong following with this group. 

Perhaps it was because the merchandise was pretty pricey for this demographic. Sure A&F clothes are on the pricey side too, but teens have parents to buy their clothes.  Most 22-35 year olds don't have mom and dad purchasing their clothes and because they are trying to establish a life on their own they can't afford the garb.

Or maybe it's because the brand was lacking a solid identity. To me Ruehl really didn't make its mark and didn't come out strong. Personally I didn't think it had clear brand definition and came across a little to aloof. To me it seemed to never make a connection with it's potential customers therefore never establishing a loyal following.

Be on he lookout for a possible going out of business sale.  Even with the potential good deals it's very sad to see another business close it's door and more people out of work. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TasteCasting Event At The Olive Tree Mediterranean Cafe

It's seems like quite awhile since I've been to a TasteCasting event. Last night I enjoyed myself, along with a handful of other TasteCaster members, at The Olive Tree Mediterranean Cafe in Hilliard, Ohio.

This new restaurant opened just a few weeks ago and features Mediterranean food with strong Greek and Israeli influences.

We sampled so much food, all incredibly delicious!  I did have a couple favorites.  The spicy feta appetizer was incredible.  Served with warm pita bread the feta cheese blended with olive oil, jalapeno peppers, fresh garlic and herbs had a little kick and a lot of flavor.  This is something I will definitely be ordering when I visit again.   I also really enjoyed the gyro meat and cinnamon rice with the gyro sauce.  

All food is made fresh daily and it shows in quality and taste.  We ended our tasting with coffee and baklava.  I've always loved this Greek pastry but never had one with flaky phyllo dough. Very interesting to look at, very good to eat!

Being a new restaurant I also paid attention to their logo.  I liked the simplicity and style, as well as how the olive color background mixed with the black and white fonts.  It definitely says Mediterranean to me but in a modern way.  The olive branch image is subtle and a nice addition. Maybe as they become more well known it can become their golden arches.

Obviously, another reason for TasteCasting is to help market the establishment through social media channels.  Another way to help grow the business is through promotion. The Olive Tree Mediterranean Cafe did create a TasteCasting promotion . . . .

Mention TasteCasting and use code OTMC
and when you buy 1 Sandwich you get second sandwich at 1/2 off
Hurry the promotion runs through the end of June.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greatest City of All To Highlight Non-Profit Events

This week I'm going to start writing for another local blog - The Greatest City of All.  Yes, that would be Columbus, Ohio!

A Jason Blanton endeavor, The Greatest City of All features write-ups on all types of events happening in Columbus.  

I will focus on non-profit events.  Most of my posts will highlight upcoming events to help draw attention and possibly increase attendance. At times I will attend an event and provide a review with details and photos.

If you are a non-profit organization and would like me to highlight one of your upcoming events (pre-event or post event) contact me at michele@columbusimpressions.com.  I'd love to help raise awareness for the many wonderful Columbus, Ohio non-profit events!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Free Food For A Little Market Research Assistance

Through the suggestion of a blog I follow, I signed up for the O'Charley e-newsletter. O'Charley's is a great family restaurant and having two teenagers it's one of the restaurants that we all like to frequent.

By becoming a member of the O'Charley's e-club I received a welcome email with a free appetizer. Score! We went out to eat that weekend at O'Charley's, and yes, we got our free appetizer. In fact, my daughter treated it as her meal ordering the chicken quesadilla. That saved us over $8.00. 

Last week I received an email asking me to answer a short survey. I guess O'Charley's was doing a little market research. They asked simple questions like: how many in the family, how often we visited the restaurant and if we came with friends or family.  The survey literally took two minutes.

After I finished the survey, I immediately received an email with a certificate for a free dessert. A thank you just for taking the survey.  Not bad at all.  So, before the end of this month, my family will be taking another trip back to O'Charley's for dinner and a free dessert to share.

Smart on O'Charley's part. By giving us a few free items we'll keep coming back.  Smart on our part.  By signing up for an e-newsletter we get free items.  Win - win!  Yum - yum!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Philanthropy Friday Behind the Scenes with Flying Horse Farms

This Behind the Scenes Spotlight features non-profit organization Flying Horse Farms.  You can read my feature article on this incredible organization at Columbus Underground.

Hospitals and their staffs play an important role in creating awareness for Flying Horse Farms. In fact, Flying Horse Farms works with the following hospitals to recruit campers and educate parents on their program:
  • Akron Children's Hospital
  • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
  • Nationwide Children's Hospital
  • Cleveland Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital
  • St. Vincent Mercy Children's Hospital
  • The Children's Medical Center of Dayton
  • The Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital
  • Toledo Children's Hospital

This leads me to a touching story about a recent camper of Flying Horse Farms who learned of this great organization from Cleveland's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.  Here is Emily's Story:

Emily is a 12-year-old who loves to talk and has a huge smile. When asked about camp, she tells story after story after story, all at a very rapid pace. 

When Emily was ten, she was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a cancer that attacks the kidneys. After diagnosis life went from being overwhelming - having surgery the next day - to life-changing. Since her initial diagnosis and treatments, she has had multiple relapses. She’s undergone countless hours of treatment at Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. The illness has become a constant and daily part of Emily’s life, as well as her family’s. 

Emily first learned about camp when she saw a poster at the hospital. Her doctors and nurses thought it would be a great way for her to focus on something other than all the medical treatments, something positive. In fact, the medical staff was so excited for Emily to go to camp that they worked her treatment around the camp dates.

From trying new things to meeting new friends, Emily enjoyed it all. “I was pretty homesick the first night,” Emily recalls. “But once I started to get involved in all the things we did, I got really busy and had so much fun that the time just flew by.”

Emily got a chance to do a lot of things she’d never done before. Camp introduced her to horseback riding where she felt like she just entered “a zone.” Today she takes riding lessons once a week. Camp was so great that she returned again the following year, and this time she was able to use her experience and familiarity to be a support to the new kids.

Emily’s Parents Testimonial:

“Our lives had become so focused on the medical things: chemo, radiation, etc., that we’d all lost the opportunity to talk about and do ‘normal’ things,” said John, Emily’s dad. “We felt like camp allowed our entire family the chance to recapture a little bit of what had been lost. My wife and I spent some valuable time with each other and our son, while Emily had the experience of a lifetime.”

“Sending Emily to camp was a scary thing to do and at first and I was apprehensive. But then I realized that I needed to trust her doctors, who recommended that she go, and to also trust that the experience would be worth it,” recalls Emily’s mom, Debbie. “I can say without a doubt that it was worth it, for our entire family.”

Get connected with Flying Horse Farms social media pages:

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/flyinghorsefarm

Facebook: http://www.facebook/com/pages/Flying-Horse_Farms/53886238014

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For All The Bachelorette Fans Out There #Bachelorette

My blog has been pretty serious lately so I thought it was time to lighten things up a bit. I haven't done a "Can You See the Resemblance?" in such a long time, so why not now.  This one however is kind of like Conan O'Brien's "If They Mated", a segment he did when hosting the Late Night Show.

I have to admit I do watch the Bachelorette even though it has a tendency to be a little cheesy, sometime fake and over dramatic. Sometimes I revel in mindless TV, and with a glass of wine it proves to be a good stress reliever. So my favorite bachelor is Ed. I know many of you on Twitter chat call him Big Head Ed, but I still like him.  All these weeks he has looked so familiar to me and after Monday night it finally dawned on me.

A little Jeffrey Dean Morgon from Grey's Anatomy and a little Barry Williams, aka Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch.

Right? Can you see it too or was it the glass of red wine that clouded my judgment?

The Strategy Behind Branding

You think your brand is a little tired and you would like to freshen it up. Instead of just changing the logo put a little strategy behind branding.  

One of the first steps to freshening up a brand would be to perform a brand audit. Collect all materials. Look at the logo, messaging and collateral previously used and create an analysis. What worked, why? What didn't, why?  Is there anything you still like? Anything you could rework?  Anything you wish you never used?  

If you want to truly revive your brand, and if your budget allows, you should revamp your identity.  A few things to consider as you take on a new brand identity:
  • What is your mission and how can you incorporate it's values into your brand?
  • What is your purpose?
  • How do you want to position your brand? (marketing and PR opportunities)
  • Do you have a positioning statement?
  • How will you protect your brand? (reputation management)
  • Who will you align your brand with? (association, connection)
  • When you communicate your brand what tone should be used 
  • What is your brand character and personality?
  • Do you or should you incorporate a tag line?
  • What are your visual themes?  (colors, fonts, images)
  • Who is your target audience? (demographic)
  • What is your competition doing? Is it working?
  • Are metrics in place to measure brand performance?
This will take some time, however it should be worth it in the end.  Brand strategy should produce positive results creating an identity that will make a stronger statement, as well as a long-lasting connection.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Logo

So yesterday I was turned on to a great web site Logo of the Day.  Having a passions for strategic branding I of course, spent quite a bit of time looking at the various logos.

Logo of the Day is a site promotes, judges and rates high-profile logos.  Anyone can suggest a logo for Logo of the Day consideration.  It's also a place to go to for design inspiration.  Pretty cool!

From this site I found a link to another great site Brand New.  This site provides opinions on corporate and brand identity work for newly created images.

I pulled the Miracle Whip logo comparison to mention on my site.

Looks like Miracle Whip is going more for a cleaner simpler look.  This new logo looks really similar to the one I remember as a kid.  We were a Miracle Whip, not real mayo family.

I also found Miracle Whip's first logo (no this was NOT the logo I remember as a kid, I am no that old).
According to Brand New, Miracle Whip is targeting a younger 18-34 year old demographic. Hence the vintage look. Maybe it's because they are thrift store shoppers.

Or maybe because they are the demographic most likely to eat marshmallow fluff.  When I see this new jar and logo I am reminded of marshmallow fluff.  Just flip the lid color with the font color.  Do you see it too?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Media Inquiry Sheet

Since yesterday's post was about how to do an interview, I thought today I'd share something that has helped me keep potential media crisis situations at bay.

In order to be proactive in handing a potential media crisis, you should have a defensive PR strategy and it should start with how to handle incoming media calls.  A media caller who is looking to see if there is any merit to a claim can usually make a determination by the reaction of the first phone call.  By being prepared and creating a procedure you can avoid a media headache.

Create a point of contact to handle media inquiries then create a media inquiry sheet for the staff.  Everyone should follow these simple media instructions (which should be placed somewhere near the phone).

Instructions for Responding to Media Inquiries that come via phone, email or in-person
(place near telephone)


  1. Get the media caller's name, affiliate and contact information
  2. Put all media inquiries through to:  (insert designated point of contact - usually the Communications Director)*
  3. If the designated point of contact is not available, please do the following:
  • Get the media caller's name, affiliate, contact information and deadline
  • Get the nature of the inquiry
  • Let them know (insert designated point of contact) will get back to them as soon as possible
  • Immediately notify (insert designated point of contact) at (insert cell phone number or email address)

*If the media caller asks for a specific person other than the designated point of contact, or starts to ask you questions, state the organization's policy (example below) and put the inquiry through to the designated point of contact.

Media Policy
It is the policy of (insert organization name) to direct all media inquires through to (insert designated point of contact). You can contact (insert designated point of contact) at (insert direct dial line, cell phone number or email). This individual will help you with your questions.

Designated Point of Contact's Response to Media
If you are the designated point of contact and are caught off guard by a media caller's inquiry or need more time to answer, follow these steps:
  • Politely say something like "I'm right in the middle of something, can I get back to you?"
  • Find out the media caller's deadline and assure you will get back to them in plenty of time
  • Quickly do an Internet search on your organization to see what, if anything, is being said
  • If you find something create some talking points
  • Make sure all information on your organization is current
  • Research media caller and affiliate
  • Contact media caller and answer questions
  • Should questioning become in-depth it is alright to tell media caller that you will need to obtain additional information and will get back to them before their deadline 
By putting a few simple media procedures in place, your organization could prevent a potential crisis situation, (as well as a headache that could last many hours, day, or even weeks).

Monday, June 8, 2009

You've Been Asked To Do An Interview . . Now What?

Here are some tips when working with the media for an interview.

Before the Interview:
  1. A reporter's approach can give clues to the intent of the interview. Will the interview be taped or live? Before the interview date do some research on the media outlet and reporter - what type of stories do they typically cover? Is the reporter conversational or tight-lipped?
  2. Prepare a fact sheet to give to reporter.  If it's a live interview give to reporter the day before the interview. If it's taped bring it to the interview.  This way your key messages will be correct either during the live interview or when the interview is edited.
  3. Prepare talking points for yourself.  You may not cover all points but it is a good point of reference to use as you prepare.
  4. If it's an on camera interview dress appropriately. Stay away from harsh patterns or colors. Keep hair and jewelry simple.
During the Interview:
  1. Be natural, confident and speak at a normal volume.
  2. Be relaxed, smile and make eye contact with reporter. Body language is important. Don't fidget with your cross your arms in front of your chest.
  3. Be honest and accurate. Don't guess, it's alright to say you don't have that information at that time and you will get back to reporter as information is available.
  4. Be brief. Keep language simple, straightforward and to the point. Don't use extremely technical terms and stay with the message.
If Interview Turns Hostile:
  1. Stay calm. Never react and don't yield to pressure. How you sound is as important as what you say.
  2. Respond with facts and be persuasive.
  3. Don't repeat reporter's negative words, even to refute them. Substitute with positive words.
  4. Don't let inaccurate statement pass you by. Word the correction in your follow-up response.  Use steering phrases to bring back your message like:
  • "The real issue here is . . ."
  • "What really affects the public is . . ."
  • "Let's put this in perspective . . ."
  • "Another important point is . . ."
When you are being interviewed, no matter the tone of the interview, always listen carefully to the questions. Listen to the entire question, then take a couple seconds to collect your thoughts before you answer.

Friday, June 5, 2009

100 Year Old Brand Ends in U.S.

Yesterday, P&G announced that their Max Factor cosmetic brand will be discontinued in the United States.  

Max Factor is a strong brand in England and Russia and will continue to be sold in 70 other countries.  This 100-year-old brand had a long tradition of being Hollywood's makeup artists cosmetic of choice in the U.S.  Struggling of late, Max Factor moved primarily to Wal-Mart stores. The brand will officially be discontinued first quarter 2010, however close out Max Factor products could be available for months more.  

So, what happened to this once strong cosmetic brand?  In my opinion, maybe it's because they marketed themselves as the makeup of makeup artists.  That makes me think they are targeting to an exclusive group that I'm not a part of.  Sure I wear makeup, but I don't apply it like a makeup artist. Therefore, I never thought of Max Factor as a cosmetic choice.

No worries, there is still plenty of time to stock up on your favorite eye shadow or mascara. That's the good news. 
The bad news, Carmen Electra is out of a job, at least in the U.S.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Blame Everything on Cancer - #BlameDrewsCancer

On Twitter this morning I noticed quite a few people blaming Drew's cancer for anything bad that was happening.  

Of course this intrigued me so I looked into it.

Here is what I found Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer, Hodgkins Lymphoma, on May 20, 2009.  You can read Drew's story here.

This extremely creative guy wanted to be light-hearted about his battle with the disease so he created Blame Drew's Cancer.  Blame Drew's Cancer is a Twitter Hashtag (#).  So anytime you want to vent about something in a tweet add the hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer.

They will tally all hash tags and hopefully find a sponsor to donate $1.00 per hashtag to the American Cancer Society and The Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Let's help Drew win his fight against cancer and start blaming his cancer for anything and everything!

I'm going to start with blaming his cancer on my Internet connection being extra slow today (I was going to blame Oprah but Drew's cause is much better)!

Organizational Creativity Disney Style

Today I was looking for something in my file cabinet.  Unfortunately, I did not find it but I did stumble across something of interest.  

A couple years back I went to a seminar and took a Disney Institute Session.  Impressed by their culture and creative way of thinking I kept the handouts and reviewed them once again. I'm really glad I read through the materials that served as a reminder for success.  I thought it would be fun to pass along some of what I learned.

Disney's Definition of organizational creativity is the collective expression, analysis, and implementation of ideas. They believe everyone is creative, that creativity brings a competitive advantage and you can organize to maximize creativity.

Disney organizes to maximize creativity in three ways:
  1. Organizational Identity (analysis):  Having a clear Organizational Identity helps focus creative energy which conserves resources.  Organizations should focus on customer (for whom), vision (to be), mission (to do) and essence (to feel)
  2. Collaborative Culture (expression): Building genuine relationships among others so that ideas can be expressed honestly and without fear.  The goal of the culture is to produce the most and best ideas. This can be achieved by focusing on the passion for the purpose, shared values, communication, trust and a variety of perspectives.  One tip that stood out in my mind was - When building on an idea from another idea use "yes AND" stay away from "yes BUT".
  3. Structural Systems (implementation): The purpose of structural systems is to ensure that ideas are managed in a way that ultimately leads to smooth implementation and measurable results.  To ensure effective decision making around the resources that contribute to creativity organizations should set parameters, use expertise, have accountability and create process.  To stay relevant process should be revisited once a year.
In order to grow and improve Disney uses the Continuous Improvement Cycle and gets everyone involved in making improvements.  To achieve success they do the following:
  • Listen and Learn
  • Measure
  • Act
  • Re-Measure
  • Recognize and Celebrate
  • Share (Best Practices)
While I may currently be a sole proprietor, these practices are still useful to me today.  In order to achieve great things I need to collaborate with my clients in all endeavors. 

From the wise words of Walt Disney, "The whole thing here is the organization. Whatever we accomplish belongs to our entire group, a tribute to our combined effort."

The Disney Institute also offers web programs. Coming soon: Disney's Approach to Brand Loyalty.  Should be an excellent webcast! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Client: Family Promise of Delaware County

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation to the board of Family Promise of Delaware County. This week I was hired to do a small marketing and PR project to help this chapter get started.  I will be working on the "Four M's": 
  • Messaging - creating local key messages
  • Marketing - creating an updated brochure or marketing postcard
  • Media - creating some awareness in traditional press and social media
  • Means - creating a few fundraising/sponsorship tools
Family Promise is a national organization with 150 affiliates nationwide.  They are an interfaith hospitality network for homeless families. Congregations and volunteers help connect homeless families with services and support like shelter, meals child care, and career training.  

Currently Delaware County has nine host churches, five support churches and a day center signed up and ready to help.  This network will serve as host and will provide meals and overnight accommodations to up to 14 people for a week. They provide beds, transportation, and a day center where families will spend day hours receiving counseling, doing job searches and preparing to move into permanent housing.

In Delaware County the homeless family count is rising.  To help combat this growing problem Family Promise of Delaware County was developed with the assistance of homeless advocacy group, Concerned Citizens Against Homelessness.

Family Promise of Delaware County is in the process of raising funds and accepting in-kind donations for the development of the Network.  They hope to open their doors by the end of summer and will reside at 35 N. Washington Street, Delaware, OH.  Be on the lookout for their local website coming soon.  In the meantime, you can check out the national website here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Music In Advertising

Some commercials are my favorite solely based on the music that plays in the spot.  In fact, sometimes I like the music so much I go to iTunes and download the song to add to my collection.  

Music in advertising is becoming big business for brand and artists alike.  That's why Billboard and Adweek have teamed together for the 1st Music & Advertising conference in New York City. Interested?  It's not too late to register for the event that runs June 4-5.

Pharrell Williams will host a Q&A session to share how he took his career to new heights by translating his music into big brand opportunities.  Below is one of my favorites that Pharrell did for Converse. Very catchy tune!  Yep, I downloaded this one.

Produced By Pharrell - Santogold, Julian Casablancas, N.E.R.D.

Do you have any favorites? Send me a comment. I'm always looking to add to my music collection.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's In A Name? Lots If You're Retired Pro Golfer Annika Sorenstam

It's Memorial Tournament Week so I thought it appropriate to highlight a golf story.

The names of pro athletes has proven to be very valuable over the years. The latest athlete to join the name branding ranks is retired pro golfer Annika Sorenstam.

Recently announced, Annika will use her name on two new high-quality products - win and fragrance. She already uses her signature on a clothing line marketed by Cutter & Buck.

Through her global travels on the golf tour Annika has always enjoyed a good glass of wine. That's why she teamed up with Wente Vineyards to create a Syrah called Annika. This bottle of red is a blend of 75% Livermore Valley Syrah, 15% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Livermore Valley Golf Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. 611 cases of 750 ml bottles will soon be released at $75.00 per bottle. A little pricey for my liking since most of my reds are $20.00 and under.

SA Fragrances in Boston is Marketing ANNIKA targeting women ages 16-65. The aromas of amber, vanilla, white flowers and fresh citrus supposedly bridges the age gap. The perfume will be packaged in 1.7 and 3.4 oz bottle retailing for $59.50 and $79.50. Not knocking Annika, but I really don't think perfume when I hear her name. I'm sure the fragrance is lovely though and I wish her the best of luck!