Friday, October 29, 2010

Make sure your Vision Statement Means Something

By John Maroon

So many times we hear about companies going away for retreats and spending hours and even days trying to come up with a vision statement.

Vision statements define an organization’s purpose in terms of the organization’s values rather than bottom line measurements like a mission statement is supposed to do. The vision statement conveys the purpose and the values of the organization and most people believe it should be short, simple and impactful.

Last January Maroon PR held what is now an annual one-day company retreat where we all get together and set our goals for the year. Last year one of our primary objectives was to come up with a vision statement.

I, and I suspect others, was skeptical about the value of this. So many times things like this are written and talked about during a meeting or brainstorm session…and then never discussed again. We went back and forth and talked about all of the things that are important about our company and what truly sets us apart.

What we came away with was “We Drive Growth Through Relationships.” A year later I reflect on that and I am proud. These are truly words that guide us and our actions and not just a stale line that sits on our website. It drives all that we do and everyone knows what our vision statement is.

What does it mean? Simply that.

Relationships with Media… Many media members we call friends. In addition, we have a philosophy of not badgering media members to try to get them to cover an event or write a story. Not every pitch is answered or acted upon and we respect that completely.

Relationships with Clients… In April we will celebrate our fifth anniversary. Many of our clients have been with us nearly the entire time. In fact Ripken Baseball, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation and the Babe Ruth Museum have been with us since the day we opened our doors (thank God!) and others for nearly that long … USA Football, Reading Is Fundamental, CRI Solutions, Renegade and Geier Financial Group.

Relationships for Others… When working with our clients we look at ways to effectively partner them with each other or other relationships that we may have. This is a powerful tool that helps everyone.

The bottom line is that a vision statement has to mean something to everyone and has to be reinforced and embraced. Ours has been and it has made a great difference for our business and for our clients.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR. Contact him at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Should Lebron James Do?

By Andrea Kunicky

The NBA season tips off tonight, but the buzz among hoops fans is about LeBron James' new Nike commerical, which addresses the off-season controversy over his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. "What should I do?" the NBA star asks rhetorically.

The commerical - titled “Rise” - consists of James pitching the audience various scenarios of what James could have done and how he might satisfy critics who think he made the wrong decision last summer in deciding to leave the Cavs and sign with the star-studded Heat.

"We're celebrating his courage to forge his own journey even when others may have disagreed with his decisions," Nike's vice president of global brand marketing Davide Grasso, said in news stories.

The reaction from the release on YouTube has been overwhelming. Well, that ad "is pretty much perfect," says Royce Young of CBS Sports. It's "candid" and allows us "to see the human side to LeBron" that had all but disappeared lately. If James' goal here was to restore his brand, then "put it this way: Mission Accomplished."

While you can argue over James' image, CNBC's Darren Rovell noted that Nike shoes are "barely mentioned in the spot."

In my opinion, this was another great marketing tool for James. If people agree or disagree with his decision, James and his popularity is so great that we can’t turn our heads away from him. People might still be upset with where he decided to play but it seems this is his way of showing that he really doesn’t care what people think of him. It’s honest and rebellious. It’s a reflection of James.

TNT will show the video tonight during its coverage of the NBA season opener between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, so it will be interesting to see how the reaction is to this now controversial ad.

Andrea Kunicky is an Account Executive. Contact her at

Friday, October 22, 2010

Starbucks Joins Forces with Yahoo

By: Courtney Carey

On Wednesday October 20, Starbucks new digital network went live in almost 6,800 stores. The company partnered with Yahoo Inc. to deliver a free digital network exclusively to all of their U.S. based stores. This network will not only include free Wi-Fi, but also free access to subscription editions of the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The New York Times. Also available for free are exclusive downloads on iTunes, as well as access to Zagat reviews and ratings, which are free for all customers to enjoy.

With a goal of attracting a larger customer base in their US stores, this partnership is not only beneficial to Starbucks, but also to Yahoo since they will be receiving a large amount of positive media exposure.

An article from the Sacramento Business Journal states –

“Yahoo’s vision is to be the center of people's online lives by delivering personally relevant, meaningful Internet experiences, wherever they may be,” said Elisa Steele, EVP and CMO at Sunnyvale-based Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO). “We’re excited to team up with Starbucks to create a dynamic online destination where their customers will find unique online content to keep them informed and entertained.”

In a blog from The Economist, the perks of Starbucks digital network are discussed in detail –

“While in the cafĂ©, using the free in-store Wi-Fi, customers now gain digital access to content they'd otherwise have to pay for. The Wall Street Journal opens up full access to its $103-per-year Web site, and the New York Times provides its $240-per-year Web app reader for free. Kids' entertainment giant Nickelodeon lets the rugrats in to the paid Nick Jr Boost, a subscription that costs about $100 per year. Apple will give away free music and videos. (And Starbucks is using iPhone- and iPad-friendly video and browsing standards.) Several American publishers will provides access to excerpts and the full text of books as part of the Bookish Reading Club. Starbucks gets a piece of subscription signups and sales.”

Will Starbucks be the first to kick off an in-store digital network trend? If so, will this eliminate the need for small or start-up businesses to have their own office space? Only time will tell, but as for now I am looking forward to enjoying the new services that Starbucks has to offer.

Courtney Carey is a Projects Manager. She can be reached at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Creative Marketing Shines Through

By Pete DeLuca

Millions of people worldwide turned their attention to Copiapo, Chile last week as 33 trapped miners climbed up a specially designed steel shaft to freedom. Hundreds of members of the media were present and the rescue made headlines across the world.

The miners, who spent the last two months thousands of feet underground, were expected to experience a number of health complications upon resurfacing – among them, readjusting to natural light. The solution… ? Oakley sunglasses.

The U.S. sunglasses manufacturer was approached weeks before the rescue about the opportunity to donate the shades. Oakley was happy to oblige – donating 35 pairs of specially designed Oakley Radars scientifically engineered with Black Iridium lenses to protect sensitive eyes.

Each pair of sunglasses costs roughly $180; bringing the company’s total investment to just $6,300 – but the media attention they received as each miner surfaced wearing Oakley’s sunglasses was worth much more than that. According to some sources, the value of the publicity is estimated at approximately $41 million in TV mentions alone. That does not take into consideration the hundreds of thousands of references online, in print, and on the radio. Not bad for a $6,300 investment.

Of course, the donation received criticism from people who questioned whether or not the sunglasses were a genuine charitable donation or a creative attempt to capitalize on the media attention surrounding the Chilean miners. Oakley did not benefit financially from the donation and insists that the story was leaked to the media.

Charitable donation or creative marketing ploy? Or maybe it’s both. The miners were at risk for permanent retina damage and eye protection became necessary. Oakley recognized this opportunity and made a perfectly reasonable donation. They seized the moment, and because of that, will be forever linked with this historical event.

Pete DeLuca is an Associate Account Executive. Contact him at

Monday, October 18, 2010

5 Tips for Building an Effective Website

By Chris Daley

The inspiration for this blog came when I was building a website for a new client of ours. I conducted research and thought it was interesting how many sites weren’t fresh and updated, which is strange, since websites are your most important marketing tool.

It made me think of the Simpson’s episode where Homer decided to start his own online company. Who can forget these famous Homer quotes?

"Oh, they have the Internet on computers now?" or

"Where's the ‘Any’ key?" or

"The Internet? Is that thing still around?"

The Internet is still around and it has become the most popular way people get their news, according to a recent study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Everything in our lives is integrated with the Internet and your website has to look professional and be functional if you want it to be effective and represent your company in an engaging way.

With this in mind, I developed five tips to keep in mind for current businesses or new businesses wanting to build or update their websites.

  1. Create a website with room to grow it: If you are a new company, or are creating a website from scratch, don’t be so concerned with filling the website with fluff or generic photos. Keep it simple in the beginning, but leave the site wide open for adding new content and sections. You want to always be able to add news aspects to keep up with the times and keep it a living and breathing site.

  2. Avoid too much animation: It’s not the year 2000. Flash animation is not the coolest invention on the Internet anymore. Incorporate some animation but don’t have too much where it takes a few minutes to load up a web page. In general, people have little patience so in the time they’ve waited to watch your page load up, they’ve moved on.

  3. Incorporate new content regularly: It is important to continuously generate new and engaging content for your site. Update it a few times a week if possible. This does not always have to include news about your company. It can be a variety of things ranging from news within the industry you work in, blogs from you or your staff, new photos and/or videos, etc. It doesn’t look good if your site is never updated and people will never feel the need to come back to your site if the content is stale.

  4. Add photos/videos often: People love photos and video. If you were to ask a multimedia editor at a newspaper what are the most viewed sections on their website, they will most likely tell you it’s the photo galleries and videos. With this in mind, make sure you add photos to your site from recent events you attended or managed and maybe videos as well. Flip cams are very cheap and any amateur can record a nice video which will enhance your webpage.

  5. Mobile compatibility: Most people in our society are attached to their Blackberry, IPhone, etc. Nearly everyone checks the Internet on their phone when they’re on the go. This is only going to grow and soon everyone will have a phone that can connect to the Internet. So, be sure to build your site so that people can access it from their mobile devices.

Chris Daley is a Senior Account Executive. Contact him at

Friday, October 15, 2010

Meet Katy Fincham

By Katy Fincham

Katy Fincham is an Associate Account Executive. Contact her at

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Web Coding May Lead to Privacy Issues

By Matt Saler

On the front page of today’s New York Times, there is a story about HTML 5, the new web coding that is slowly being ushered in across the Internet over the next few years. The new coding system will be much more “user-friendly,” making it easier for those who browse the web to check email offline, shop, find the closest movie theater via their iPhone, and view online videos without having to download the newest version of Flash or whatever software they prefer.

Sounds like a nice improvement, right?

Problem is, as the story states…

“The new Web language and its additional features present more tracking opportunities because the technology uses a process in which large amounts of data can be collected and stored on the user’s hard drive while online. Because of that process, advertisers and others could, experts say, see weeks or even months of personal data. That could include a user’s location, time zone, photographs, text from blogs, shopping cart contents, e-mails and a history of the Web pages visited.”

Advertisers and others could see one’s history of web pages visited and potentially read another’s emails without permission? Does anyone not see a problem with this?

While it is noted that users can organize settings on their browsers to avoid such tracking, my guess is that the majority of Internet users are not even aware that such tracking exists.

I think that the makers of these Web browsers should take responsibility and aim to eliminate all tracking capabilities whatsoever, or at a minimum, stress to all users of their software that such tracking exists.

For a country that stresses a lot of freedoms, this certainly has a creepy “Big Brother” feel to it. Hopefully this story opens some eyes.

Matt Saler is a Senior Account Executive. Contact him at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bill Simmons Accidently Breaks Moss News via Twitter

By Stefen Lovelace

The latest NFL news is that mercurial wide receiver Randy Moss will be traded from the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings for a third round draft pick.

Every major outlet is reporting this is a done deal. News of the deal was announced late last night, when outlets were reporting that had broken the story.

The story may have actually been broken by columnist Bill Simmons by accident. Last night Simmons tweeted “Moss vikings”. The tweet didn’t make a lot of sense, and Simmons clarified a couple of minutes later that he meant to send the tweet as a direct message, as he had heard a rumor that a Moss trade to the Vikings might be in the works. He had no intention of sending the tweet to his one million-plus followers. He deleted the tweet a few minutes later, but was too late.

Moments later, ProFootballTalk tweeted “Unintended tweet sparks rumors of Moss to Minnesota” in reference to Simmons‘ mistake. Then’s Jay Glazer tweeted “Yes, vikes and pats have been working on trade that sends randy moss to vikes and r very clode (sic) but can't be done ...” Once that was tweeted, every major outlet started reporting it and credited on the story. To Glazer’s credit, he later acknowledged via tweet that Simmons beat him to the story, but he had been following it all day.

Simmons has always maintained that he’s not a reporter, but rather a columnist. He hails from Boston, and part of his persona is that he writes from the perspective of a fan and just comments on what he sees. But through Simmons writing, expertise, and platform, he’s managed to make some pretty major contacts in sports. If Simmons says something about the NBA or a Boston sports team, there’s a good chance there’s some truth to it.

This is probably the first actual story Simmons has broken since working for ESPN. I’m pretty sure he never thought it would be like this though.

Stefen Lovelace is an Associate Account Executive. Contact him at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Evan Williams Steps Down as Twitter's CEO

By Abby Draper

It’s been a newsworthy couple of weeks in the rapidly paced world of Social Media.

As some of you read last week, Mark Zuckerberg founder of donated $100 million to the Newark School systems; “Social Network” was released and hugely successful in its debut weekend; and today Twitter co-founder Evan Williams announced that he is turning his CEO title over to “focus on product strategy.”
In an unexpected announcement on the Twitter blog, Williams revealed that he has stepped down and asked Twitter COO Dick Costolo to take over as the company’s CEO.

In his blog, Williams writes:

“The challenges of growing an organization so quickly are numerous. Growing big is not success, in itself. Success to us means meeting our potential as a profitable company that can retain its culture and user focus while having a positive impact on the world. This is no small task. I frequently reflect on the type of focus that is required from everyone at Twitter to get us there.

This led to a realization as we launched the new Twitter. I am most satisfied while pushing product direction. Building things is my passion, and I’ve never been more excited or optimistic about what we have to build.

This is why I have decided to ask our COO, Dick Costolo, to become Twitter’s CEO. Starting today, I’ll be completely focused on product strategy.”

With the recent roll out of New Twitter, now seems like the perfect timing for Costolo to take over. I look forward to seeing where Twitter is headed.

Abby Draper is the Manager of Social Media. Contact her at

Friday, October 1, 2010

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Mitchell Schmale

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) as the organization celebrates its 26 year history of promoting greater awareness of breast cancer issues and encouraging everyone to have annual exams. NBCAM has become a resource for patients, survivors, caregivers and the general public over the years as it works with numerous national public service organizations, medical associations and government agencies to promote breast cancer awareness and education.

As the brother of a breast cancer survivor, I appreciate NBCAM’s work and am grateful for the support and resources they provide organizations, as well as individuals, to help reach out to women to encourage early detection of the disease.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 191,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and more than 40,800 women succumbed to the disease in the same year. But, the good news is that we are winning the fight. The overall mortality rate has decreased in the past 35 years and more cases of breast cancer are being found in earlier stages and being successfully treated thanks to greater education and screening programs.

The hard work of NBCAM and other leading organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, will continue around the clock – not just in October. Numerous organizations all across the country will have fun and creative local events this October to help raise funds and fight back against the disease. Find one that works for you and join the fight against cancer.

Mitchell Schmale is the Vice President of Business. Contact him at