Annual Forward Festival to Highlight Inclusiveness

Posted by Brian Lee on August 18, 2015 in Client news

Aug. 18, 2015

Molly Walsh

Annual Forward Festival to Highlight Inclusiveness

(MADISON, Wis.)—The sixth annual Forward Festival, taking place Aug. 20-27 in various locations in the city, will feature events for entrepreneurs, foodies, music lovers and now parents, organizers announced today.

“We’re looking forward to showcasing the incredible evolution of innovation around Madison at this year’s festival,” Bryan Chan, festival co-founder and president of SupraNet Communications, said. “We’re excited to include a wide range of entrepreneurs in different ages and industries while also focusing on the challenges families and parents of entrepreneurs face. Therefore, this year we will be providing free childcare all day at the Forward Technology Conference.”

The festival’s main event is the aforementioned Forward Technology Conference (Aug. 25), which is now paired with the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s neXXpo and Pressure Chamber events. Kevin Conroy, President of Exact Sciences, and Josh Levs, a CNN reporter, will be the keynote speakers.

Other highlights of the festival include the Edible Startup Summit (Aug. 24), the annual Madison Ruby Conference (Aug. 21-22) and the inaugural Parentpreneur Night (Aug. 21), an event to connect entrepreneurs who seek work-life balance.

Originally started in 2010, the Forward Festival was created by Chan, Nathan Lustig of Magma Partners and Matt Younkle of Murfie to bring together professionals from a wide range of disciplines. That is evident in events such as the Social Good Summit (Aug. 20), Yum Yum Fest (Aug. 23) and Cool Jazz with the Badger Fund (Aug. 26).

For a detailed listing of events taking place during the Forward Festival, please visit www.forwardfest.org.


Resulting media coverage:



Timing is everything

Posted by Taylor Thomas on August 14, 2015 in Public relations

USATodayPR practitioners should revise the old real estate expression about the three things that matter in property: “location, location, location” to three things that matter in public relations: “timing, timing, timing.”

As seen in a recent article in PR News, St. Baldrick’s Foundation used its relationship with its agency partner, FleishmanHillard, to pitch a targeted story that ended up landing the organization on NBC’s The Today Show.

Knowing St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s message would resonate better on television than print, FH targeted their message accordingly. In FH’s research, it found out “The Today Show” was doing a week-long segment in which people were trying to break Guinness World Records. Subsequently, FH developed a pitch in which St. Baldrick’s would try to attempt to break the record for the most heads shaved in an hour, being broadcast live on TV.

The segment was extremely successful, earning more than 20 million media impressions and raising almost $36,000 for the foundation.

St. Baldrick’s pitch to “The Today Show” was the right idea at the right time. This is just one example of how timing is extremely important in this industry. If you get it right, you can reap many benefits.

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Joey’s Seafood Changes to North and South Seafood & Smokehouse

Posted by Brian Lee on August 12, 2015 in Client news

Aug. 12, 2015

Keith or Erin Stoesz

Joey’s Seafood Changes to North and South Seafood & Smokehouse

(MADISON, Wis.) – Looking to further improve upon its menu offerings and differentiate itself from the former franchise of the same name, Joey’s Seafood is now North and South Seafood & Smokehouse, owners Keith and Erin Stoesz announced today.

In addition to its award-winning seafood (according to Madison Magazine and Taste of Madison), North and South will offer smokehouse items such as pulled pork, ribs and brisket as well as homemade BBQ sauces. Also, Three Count Beverage Co. revamped the bar menu.

“We want to make sure our customers have the best smart-casual dining experience possible,” Keith said. “The new menu reflects the cuisines that Erin and I have enjoyed throughout our lives, and we’re hopeful that diners will appreciate the additions.”

Nightly specials range from a smoked chicken dinner to fish fry. Happy hour takes place from 2:45-6 p.m. each weekday.

Keith and Erin opened the restaurant in 2005. The franchise system dissolved in 2007, but local owners were allowed to keep the name.

North and South Seafood & Smokehouse is located at 6604 Mineral Point Rd. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

More information can be found at eatnorthandsouth.com.




Alphabet Reminds us to Focus

Posted by Emily McGuire on August 11, 2015 in Doing business

AlphabetGoogle was originally created as a web search business but as technology evolves, so has Google’s focus. That is, until yesterday when the answer finding site announced that it has now established a parent company, Alphabet, which will oversee all projects outside Google’s original realm of searching.

This change will allow Google to remain the search engine expert while Alphabet oversees other areas of technological exploration and advancement.

This move by Google is a reminder of the importance of brand focus. Companies should continuously look for new opportunities to grow, expand and market itself. However, it is equally as important to remain focused on your core offerings, as side projects can prove disastrous (see Google Wave, Google Buzz).


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Be the best strategic storyteller

Posted by Taylor Thomas on August 6, 2015 in Marketing

A recent poll by PR News and Nasdaq Media Intelligence asked which of Fortune’s 2015 Most Admired Brands succeed best at telling humanizing stories that drive positive awareness. The results were the following: one-fifth said that Apple is the best at doing this, with Coca-Cola in second. Other companies that ranked high were Walt Disney, Southwest and American Express.

Are you looking to share your brand’s story? Here are a few tips:

  • Share stories about your customers rather than employees
  • Use social media and your website to tell your story
  • Stay away from op-eds and radio when sharing story

So why is Apple so successful? It has found ways for consumers to buy its products without ever ‘advertising’ the actual product. Instead, Apple tells a story that engages everyone and makes them feel a connection.

For example, here’s an Apple commercial demonstrating its FaceTime app:



Cecil the Lion

Posted by Brian Lee on August 4, 2015 in Public relations

In media relations, especially during a crisis, I always tell clients to get their story out first–don’t let others shape your story. (Note: this blog post takes a look at the PR aspect of the Cecil the Lion story, not the morality of it.)

Walter Palmer, who killed Cecil, issued a statement through a PR firm, but it was way too late. By that point, the media and people on social media already painted him in a extremely negative light (see the Yelp page for his dental practice, though you should note Yelp has already deleted about 5,000 posts).

In several subsequent articles, people familiar with big game hunting said that it’s actually common for a local guide to do all the work (scouting, luring the animal, etc.) before the client does the killing. Thus, it’s plausible that Palmer didn’t know he had killed Cecil the Lion, nor did he realize that it was lured illegally out of its protected zone.

Had he said that immediately, as well as explaining the method of killing (arrow followed by bullet) and garnering more experts to corroborate his story, he could have softened the blow. But, that’s all a moot point now.


Buick’s all about creating impressions

Posted by Taylor Thomas on July 31, 2015 in Marketing

If a car company gave you the opportunity to test drive a car overnight and included a company-themed yoga workout, mix-at-home company fragrances and a “company meditation map,” would that make you more likely to buy one of their vehicles?

That’s what Buick hopes, as its “24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive” marketing campaign was released last week. The company hopes this idea not only shows their interest in their consumers but creates an impression that Buick trusts their shoppers.

Typically a brand for an older demographic, Buick is now targeting a new generation of buyers and combined that with the trending topic of wellness.

This campaign notion reminded me of the quotation, “if you’re not innovating, you’re going backward.”

So ask yourself, how are you/your company innovating and constantly improving to the ever changing demands of today’s society?



Salt on the wound

Posted by Brian Lee on July 28, 2015 in Media

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Like many public relations practitioners, I’m frustrated by people in an organization who leak information (confidential or otherwise). However, journalists’ lack of computer security makes leaks even worse.

According to a ScienceDaily article, journalists aren’t doing enough to safeguard the info they obtain: “Despite heightened awareness of surveillance tactics and privacy breaches, existing computer security tools aren’t meeting the needs of journalists working with sensitive material.”

Media outlets are constant targets of hackers, according to Computer Business Review. This could mean leaked info that a journalist intended to only partially report on could still be published in its entirety due to hackers.

That’s another reason to stop leaks in an organization.


Wallpapers Deleted by Twitter

Posted by Emily McGuire on July 24, 2015 in Social media

This week Twitter removed users’ customized backgrounds and replaced them with a simple off-white background.

Social media is a tool for branding yourself, many users felt that personalized backgrounds on Twitter were a form of self-branding. Now, background images are only available on Tweet pages, list pages and collections pages, according to Twitter.

Many Twitter users are upset that the option of creating a customized background is now gone. But there are more ways to build your brand, whether it is a personal brand or a company’s brand, on social media other than customizing the background of your twitter page.

To build your brand on social media be sure to post frequently, interact with other users, catch the attention of influencers, use the social media sites that your audience uses and post valuable and shareable content. Doing these things on social media will display your brand in an interactive way that is much more effective than displaying your brand in a stagnant background image.



Instagram Moves to the Web

Posted by Taylor Thomas on July 21, 2015 in Social media

We know that Instagram is a mobile app, but the company recently announced it’s bringing searching capabilities to the web. Users will now be able to search for hashtags, profiles and locations on the web using Instagram.com, which is continually looking more and more like the mobile version.

According to Instagram, users drove their web embedded content to the website, causing the company to improve their web-based page. After doing this, it resulted in 5.3 billion impressions in the month of June. Since then, the company realized how important building a cross-platform experience was.

In addition to creating the search capability, Instagram also created landing pages for geotags and hashtags, seeing some of the top posts when you search both.

These features will benefit businesses because it’s another way companies can target their current and potential clients. Also, by searching for the top posts in a certain subject, companies stay up to date with the latest trends in their industry.


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