Posts Tagged ‘PR’

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Sterling Cross Communications Celebrates 10 Years of Cross Community Projects (Pro-Bono) for Non-Profits, Charitable Causes, & Faith Based Organizations

January 11, 2013

Sterling Cross Communciations logoThis has been both a great sense of accomplishment and pride for our firm and we hope to continue projects like these for many years to come:

Sterling Cross Communications Celebrates 10 Years of Cross Community Projects (Pro-Bono) for Non-Profits, Charitable Causes, & Faith Based Organizations

Minneapolis, MN – When Mary Lower first proposed the idea to her husband Christopher, that they should put out their own shingle and launch their own Public Relations and Marketing Firm, Sterling Cross Communications, in 2003, they knew they really wanted to put their own stamp on what it meant to be a firm or agency in the Twin Cities. They really wanted to be a firm that stood out from a very crowded creative field in the market. One of those unique differences was the creation of their Cross Community Project program.

There are many great stories that needed to be told to the public, but a lot of charitable, non-profit, volunteer based, and faith-based organizations did not have the budgets, know-how, or manpower to get the word out there to the media. The Lowers decided that no matter how their business would perform, it would always have the Cross Community Program offered.

Four times a year (once each quarter) Sterling Cross takes on a project from one of these groups that fills out a request on their website for help (http://sterlingcrossgroup.com/contact), and selects and provides a pro-bono PR or Marketing project. It started with just the Lower’s choosing projects, but as their firm grew and they added employees, contractors, vendor partners, and clients, the project grew to include recommendations and selections from the entire group.

Mary Lower reflected on the 10 year milestone and said; “We may always be a smaller (size) agency, but we want to have a huge impact on our community.” She continued; “Some of these events reaped tremendous benefits from our effort, helping to make these events or news stories the best they could be and share great stories provided great joy and we felt that was payment enough.” Christopher Lower agreed; “Great stories need to be shared, and as that is a passion of ours, it has truly meant we were honored to be a small part of and to share the stories of people doing great things to impact their communities. Both Lowers hope to still be performing these projects and continuing the Cross Community Projects for many years to come.

For a partial list to some of the parties and organizations they have helped over the years, please click here: http://sterlingcrossgroup.com/industries (listed under the Cross Community Clients). To find out more or to submit your projects for consideration please visit their website here: http://sterlingcrossgroup.com/industries/cross-community-charity-and-non-profit-clients.

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10 Businesses That Would Benefit by Being on Pinterest Today!

April 18, 2012

In recognizing how incredibly fast Pinterest is growing, and the quick migration to Pinterest by many businesses (including ourselves and several of our clients). I was recently asked at a conference, which businesses would really benefit by being on this platform and why they would do so. Here’s the list and reasons that I came up with for the group:

  1. Hair, Nail, & Spa Salons – Obviously this platform is incredibly suited to the primary demographic of users (Pinterest is the number one platform of choice for female social media users).  Pinterest Boards can be used to highlight and focus on photos of current hairstyles, fashions, nail color trends, hair colors, beauty and facial trends and the lists go on. 
  2. Travel Agencies – Think of Pinterest as your home for virtual travel brochures and videos. Because of the “wish list” feature of Pinterest, where people are pinning and repining great travel images and destinations they would like to plan on visiting.
  3. Home Remodelers – Use Pinterest as an online gallery to show off before and after photos of your projects to demonstrate your expertise and examples of great work you have performed.
  4. Interior Designers – The same basic idea as remodelers would work here. Pinterest can be leveraged as an online gallery to show before and after photos, show off trends, fabrics, patterns, signature pieces, and so on.
  5. Landscapers – Here you can benefit from sharing how-to information, as well as showing off examples of work you have performed.  Just like rooms in our homes, we tend to pin photos or repin photos of things we’d like in our yards someday.
  6. Event & Wedding Planners – Here you can showcase venues, ideas, your portfolio of work done, decorations, themes, and settings. The list here is endless.
  7. Jewelry & Clothing – Combining product photos and the Pinterest “Gift” option can help to drive online and in store sales of items you sell.
  8. Tattoo Shops – Where better to place an online gallery of your artwork and designs! You can also show off specific signature pieces, as well as provide examples of tattoos designed for specific body areas.
  9. Auto Detail/Paint/Customizing – The number one things that Males on Pinterest pin after food pins, are pins of vehicles, especially dream cars, customized cars, and video as well.  If you can provide these images of your work online they are sure to be repinned (believe me, I found a showroom photo of a 1979 Chevy Chevette, my first car, and even that car is my pin with the highest number of repins).
  10. Resorts & Campgrounds – Similar to travel, you can virtually create an online travel brochure for your property to drive awareness and interest.  You can even open up certain Pinboards to allow your guests to pin photos from their trips or vacations. Allowing your customers to help share the fondness and memories of their trip.

At Sterling Cross Communications, we have a vast experience in creating and executing exciting and outside the box campaigns across several social media platforms. If you need help or more ideas on placing your business on Pinterest or need a strategy and action plan on what to do on these channels please contact us at http://sterlingcrossgroup.com.

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Savvy hosts: Twin Cities restaurants embrace social media to boost loyalty – and sales

March 6, 2010

We were recently a part of a recent article by Julio Ojeda-Zapata in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the restaurant scene in the Twin Cities.  It shows how well this market is really on the leading edge of social media and marketing for Hospitality related businesses.  Here is the start, then click the link for the full article:

A number of Twin Cities restaurants are embracing social media to increase loyalty — and sales — among fans.

Until last year, James Flinsch’s contributions at Pazzaluna were strictly IRL (that is,’in real life’ in cyberslang).

As wine steward at the popular downtown St. Paul Italian restaurant, he often rescues diners at a loss for a killer pairing. Hired as a waiter in 1999, Flinsch still whisks dishes onto tabletops with some regularity.

While on paternity leave with a lot of late-night hours on his hands, though, he glimpsed another, online role for himself at his beloved restaurant. He noted that the establishment’s management company had created a Facebook fan page

Until last year, James Flinsch’s contributions at Pazzaluna were strictly IRL (that is,’in real life’ in cyberslang).

As wine steward at the popular downtown St. Paul Italian restaurant, he often rescues diners at a loss for a killer pairing. Hired as a waiter in 1999, Flinsch still whisks dishes onto tabletops with some regularity.

While on paternity leave with a lot of late-night hours on his hands, though, he glimpsed another, online role for himself at his beloved restaurant. He noted that the establishment’s management company had created a Facebook fan page… Click Here to Read the Rest of the Article

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Not “social media gurus”—they just do successful work: Twin Cities Business Magazine’s Senior Editor Gene Rebeck blogs about Sterling Cross Communications re: PR & Social Media

February 14, 2010

We met with and chatted with Gene Rebeck, the Senior Editor at Twin Cities Business Magazine, and he wrote a blog post based on our discussions. Here is the opening excerpt and a link to Gene’s blog:

Sterling Cross’s Social Studies

Chris and Mary Lower, the spouses and owners of Maple Grove-based social media and public relations agency Sterling Cross are highly regarded in the burgeoning Twin Cities social media scene. But don’t call them “social media gurus.”

It’s a term that makes them laugh and shake their heads. Such “experts” often are mid- to late-career marketing or PR types looking to latch on to the Next Big Thing. (Test the guru: Ask for case studies.)

Besides, as Chris notes, it’s not a field that you can be an expert in: It’s changing too fast and too continuously. “These experts say things like, ‘Make big money on Twitter!’” Chris says, chuckling.

The Lowers do know their social stuff. Go here to read the rest!

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Using PR & Social Media to Promote Restaurants – A Case Study

January 18, 2010

At Sterling Cross Communications, we’re very proud to have been a recent case study focus by Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal Magazine’s Winter 2010 Issue.  The Case Study covers the work we have been doing for our client moto-i, the first sake microbrewery outside of Kyoto, Japan, located in Uptown Minneapolis.   It goes into detail about the behind-the-scenes efforts that were put into place to promote this restaurant via social media channels as well as integrating media and blogger relations. Here is the article:

Sake & Social Media

Placing his trust in Sterling Cross Communications, restaurateur Blake Richardson turned to social media to market his latest venture, Moto-i sake microbrewery and restaurant.

By Ellie M. Bayrd

Nearly seven years ago, Blake Richardson, owner of the Herkimer Pub & Brewery in Minneapolis and the mind behind Triple Caff draft energy drink, fell in love with sake. Inspired by what he calls an “amazing beverage,” the beer brewer embraced the possibility of creating a sake microbrewery restaurant in Minneapolis. The labor of love took him to Japan several times, where he studied the art of sake. At the same time that Richardson was becoming enamored with the drink, he was also in a love affair with Asian cuisine like many other Americans. “The synergy between the two just came together at the right time,” he says.

The idea percolated and his studies progressed, and about two years before his restaurant idea would become a reality Richardson had a chance meeting with Chris Lower, director of marketing, public relations and social media at Sterling Cross Communications. A company touting its traditional storytelling in a modern world,Maple Grove-based Sterling Cross has embraced online marketing tools. While Richardson wasn’t really thinking about how he would market his new restaurant concept at the time, his conversation with Lower spurred him to action. “I don’t want to allude to that I wouldn’t have had a plan,” Richardson says. “But I came in contact with Sterling Cross long before that segment of my responsibilities to the marketing would have come along.”

 Click HERE to read the rest of the article

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Horizon Realty – A Case Study in how not to handle online reputation management

August 3, 2009

It started out fairly innocuously, it was a single retweet on Twitter of a news source I monitor, but the headline was too intriguing not to read – Will one Chicago woman’s Tweet cost her $50,000? I immediately thought to myself; “boy, someone is in trouble…,” but as I clicked on the link and read the first article here, and then I saw it was a headline here and here, I quickly saw the writing on the wall, it wasn’t the person that was in trouble, it was the company referenced: Horizon Realty.

The company in their response and defense of the single tweet by a woman, Amanda Bonnen, with the Twitter username:  @abonnen, initiated legal proceedings seeking $50,000 in damages for claimed defamation.  This is the company’s right to do so.  It is even a recommended course in traditional public relations crises communications tactics, yet, it is never the first recommended course when trying to manage your brand and reputation online. It should be the last resort.

When someone brings out the giant cannon of litigation, without having investigated and addressed the message in a public forum, it is immediately seen by the public watching, as overkill.  The giant corporation is now seen as bullying, callous, and unfeeling towards its tenants in the actions it has taken in response.

The response the company was initially hoping to avoid (that of their reputation being besmirched by the remark, has instead inflicted 1000’s of remarks to their own reputation, when word of the lawsuit reached the Twitter community.  The Twitter community took the side of the woman, and began to tear the company to shreds online for its “heavy-handedness”, “Lawsuit-happy management”, and generally being “clueless” (all words being mentioned online as descriptors of the company).

The response by Horizon’s Jeffrey Michael in a Chicago Tribune interview  , was that they were a “Sue first, ask questions later, type of company.” Once again this irked the general public online. Michael later (1 day, an eternity online)  released a press release claiming the comments were meant to be “tongue-in-cheek”, and then delved into the details of some ongoing issues that Horizon has had with Ms. Bonnen and some prior complaints she has had with them.  AS you can imagine, this release was not received well online, and for a second day, Horizon was listed as a trending topic on Twitter as the negative conversations continued fueled by Horizon themselves.

In the first 72 hours that this occurred, the damage on the net was done.  It’s been classified as an example of the Streisand Effect - an Internet phenomenon where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be widely publicized.  Companies can no longer scoff at the idea that their reputation online does not matter, and that they have to participate in and listen to the conversations.  Horizon failed to do so, and the end results so far are these:

  • They became a trending topic on Twitter, meaning that they went from the 22 followers of Ms. Bonnen’s to being seen potentially by over a million people (of their own doing with the news of the lawsuit). The most recent 1500 comments can be seen here (it would be more, but that is all that Twitter has room for in their search tool).
  • If you Google “Horizon Realty”, four of the eleven first page listings are negatively related to the lawsuit. (Think of how that looks to a future potential tenant or someone searching for a management company).
  • Their reviews on Yelp have exploded from three listings prior to this event to 26 listings (ranging from annoyed to enraged) as of today keeping their ratings as a lowly 1 and a half stars.
  • Google Blog search shows over 16,000 blog posts that are already indexed, of which over 1000 include the phrase: “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization.” There are also over 14,000 posts mentioning Jeffrey Michael (predominantly in a negative manner)
  • Not only has Horizon Realty earned the onus of being attributed to the Streisand Effect on Wikipedia, Horizon Realty has its own entry page.
  • The story jumped to traditional media as well – earning mentions in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, The Wall Street Journal and too many other outlets (over 512 stories as of today’s writing) to mention.

Is there still doubt in your mind or in the minds of your company that social media doesn’t matter?

Crisis Communication on Social Media has to have different rules, since it is different from traditional media.  We recommend the following steps be in place as the basics for any online reputation management strategies and policies that need to be put in place:

  1. Always investigate complaints made & verify the facts and source.
  2. Responding to a complaint – where:  when possible, respond on the same site the comment was made.  If it was on a blog submit a comment – if the blogger refuses to post your response, notate this and publish your post on your own blog or website.
  3. When to respond: respond in as timely a manner as possible, when the complaint has been investigated. 24 hours is a lifetime on the Internet – waiting makes things worse.
  4. Legal action may be taken to protect your IP, Brand, & Reputation: but remember, Internet issues are tricky as there are 1stAmendment issues involved that may require special expertise. Slander, Defamation of Character, Harassment, and online Bullying laws can apply. Legal intervention is required in most cases to force removal of material from the Internet. Copyright Infringement could be involved in the case of brand or identity theft.

As you can see, escalating to legal action is an option, just not the first recommended option, and never until the first three steps have been taken.

The final thoughts I will leave you with are these – the best defense is a good offense:

  1. The conversation is happening online whether you like it or not – will you participate?
  2. It’s not good enough to be present online – You need to engage your audience and participate in the conversation
  3. Transparency and Authenticity rule the net – Lies and misrepresentation will always be found out and called
  4. True Customer Service comes from listening, observing, and engaging – then, providing a thoughtful, timely response.
  5. Perception online is always a consideration – if you are perceived as the bully in responding to a complaint, using threats, or worse – legal action that could be avoided, then you lose, even if you are in the right.
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For the Multi-Housing Industry – Making Social Media Work for You

July 13, 2009

I’m linking to a valuable article for you today. I am quoted in it, but that’s not the reason I did. This article focuses specifically for social media strategies and learnings for the Multi-Housing Industry. It appears in the August 2009 issue of the Multi Housing Advocate Magazine. The Magazine is produced by the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association (MMHA), where I spoke in June on the topic of Managing your Online Reputation and Brand. The article is written by the MMHA’s PR Director, Tina Gassman and is full of insight about how to apply social media to the multi-housing management space. Here are the first two paragraphs and you can click the link following that to read the full article:

Last month, I sat in on MHA’s two-part Hot Topic seminar. Robert Turnbull of Rentwiki.com presented “The Social Media Phenomenon” and Christopher Lower of Sterling Cross Communications presented “The ROI of Managing Your Online Reputation.” While I had been reading about and researching this topic fairly extensively, I found the information to be very helpful in that it was tailored to our industry. As I discuss how this social media phenomenon must change the way we approach marketing, I will include the valuable points I learned from these two presenters and will provide you with a quick and dirty guide to your public relations efforts in this “always on” age.

Today’s marketing landscape looks much different than it did 30 years ago…

Please click here to read the rest of the article.

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