To Gift or Not to Gift?

Projects + Events
Image

The proliferation of gift bag opportunities has created an overwhelming array of product placement opportunities for companies to consider. The practice of placing a company’s product into select event gift bags has spawned cottage industries among marketers, event producers and PR folks. The question becomes, when does it make sense to place a company’s product into a gift bag and how do you determine if it’s the right opportunity?

For most start-ups or small businesses it’s a matter of scale – can you ramp up enough units of a quality product and deliver on time?  Many of the biggest, high profile ones i.e. celebrity events such as the Oscars, People’s Choice, Grammy’s and the like charge a hefty “sponsorship fee” on top of the products themselves and then there’s the shipping costs to consider. Shipping is almost always expedited, which only compounds the cost benefit analysis.

Generally, I am not a fan of gift bags.  You are competing among many products and if your product isn’t stand out and well branded (unless the brand is Tiffany, who wouldn’t keep anything silver with Tiffany logo) no one wants your logo pen, calendar or t-shirt. Really, sorry, no. So then why place your product if the brand is not clearly communicated on the product itself or packaging?

I do gift bags only when I know I can position the product in a special and identifiable manner. Sometimes, this rare gem of an opportunity does present itself and everything aligns — core audience, right influencers, right event platform, alignment of brand values, ability to execute large quantity of products AND the price to place is not ridiculous (Sometimes the case can be made to waive a fee or at the least, negotiate it down by a reasonable amount so that everyone still feels good the next day).

Recently we procured such an opportunity for our client, BlueAvocado. BlueAvocado is a young, passionate and authentic eco impact brand noted for its stylish and sustainable shopping totes and accessories. The company eliminates many of those single-use, landfill-building, products we use and throw away every day.

We placed two of their most-popular products in the celeb /VIP gift bag at Global Green USA’s 10th Annual Pre-Oscar party held at the Avalon Hollywood. This event brought eco-minded celebrities and Hollywood activists together for a night of entertainment, collaboration and celebration. The evening was a benefit for Global Green USA’s work to build greener, more resilient homes, schools and communities in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.

But of course to make the most of the product placement you have to leverage the opportunity. I decided to focus on the live social media aspect of the event. To prepare, my team and I wrote content for Facebook and Twitter, the two strongest and most active audiences for our client, to post before and during the event. We first explained what the event itself was on our client’s page, leaving a teaser as to why the event mattered to our client. During the event itself, we posted about our product’s placement in the celebrity gift bags.

We began our Twitter campaign by wishing Global Green good luck on their event and began engaging with them as the host. During the event, we shortened Facebook posts to leverage on Twitter as well. I also had my team live tweeting and monitoring Twitter for appearances of the hashtag for the event (#solarforsandy).  As you can see, we hit twitter gold with this exchange. Note to self: Calling someone a rock star eco chick is liable to get you retweeted!

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 3.58.39 PM

Overall, this event was clearly and most definitely The Right Gift Bag opportunity for our eco client. Plus now that we’ve worked with Global Green and have witnessed the high-quality event they put on, it will be an easy decision to make next time. Done and done.

Lessons From Third Grade

Errant Musings
This is me with my daughters and the third graders.
This is me with my daughters and the third graders.

Recently my children’s grade school asked for parent volunteers to speak at Career Day. It wasn’t until my husband suggested that I should do it that I gave it a second look. As a “working mother” of three school age daughters I realized my responsibility to participate. Beyond the obvious reasons, my motivation was more personal and specific. I live in a really wonderful community (some might call it a bit of a ‘bubble’) with well educated, caring and very involved families. We moved to Austin to raise our kids in just this kind of atmosphere.  However, one interesting casualty is that my daughters have very few examples of career women.

In this community, the base line expectation of the families (primarily the moms) is to be present and available 24/7 for our kids, their activities and their schools. My girls often complain to me that “other moms” come to every school event, every performance, and every activity and even eat lunch with their kids at school on a regular basis. How can a ‘working mom’ ever compare to that? Do not get me wrong, I think it is an amazing choice to stay home and be a full-time mom. It’s not a choice I have made, but I totally respect that it is the right choice for many women (and a few men).

Back to motivation. As a minority, aka career mom, once I decided to commit the effort and time, I was looking forward to speaking up and showing my daughters and their classmates that women can be both – good moms and successful career people.

The presentation was for a couple classes of 3rd graders. All my girls were able to attend as well.  It was fun. I love presenting and the kids were very engaged. My biggest challenge was to tailor the information for a Minecraft-obsessed, eight and nine-year-old crowd.

Lessons From Third Grade is attached but here are the main talking points and slides from my presentation at Career Day:

“I have a PR agency here in town called Kimberly Strenk PR. But most of you here know me as Elke’s mom, Katha’s mom or Taschi’s mom – right? Well, outside the neighborhood, from as far away as London, England to California and New York, people know me as the owner of a PR agency.

What is Public Relations?

What is PR? PR is a profession that helps companies, organizations or individuals communicate with the outside world.  Now why would it be important to do this? (Use a retail store as an example)

  • Grow Brands

My company specializes in launching and growing brands. Does anyone know what a brand is? Show 4 brand images. What do you think of when you see this? What are some of your favorite brands? Why do you like them?

Examples of recognizable brand logos.

Blog Pics
  • Create Stories

Another thing we do is we create stories for our clients. Has anyone here written a story recently that got a great grade or that you are really proud of? When you wrote the story, did you think about who you were writing it for? What did you want to say? How were you able to communicate that message? We do the same things, we create stories that are relatable, and hopefully interesting so that lots of people will want to learn, buy or engage with our client’s brands.

  • Build Relationships

In PR, it’s also very important to build relationships. Does anyone know what a relationship is? How do you start a relationship? Well we do the same thing on behalf of our clients.

I chose PR because:

  • Career vs. job
  • Builder
  • Writer
  • Listener
  • Problem solver
  • Social
  • I always wanted to be the boss

Education and Training:

  1. BA in Literature and Language
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Critical Thinking
  • Imagination
  • Present your best self
  • Do great work
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Move on
  • A positive attitude

 Lessons from Third Grade:

  • To listen
  • To ask questions
  • It’s ok to make mistakes
  • Be a good friend

Important Skills to Develop as a Third Grader:

—  Grammar + Spelling

—  Reading + Analytics

—  Creativity + Building

—  Relationships + Reputation

—  Find a role model

How did it go? Could not have been better.  We actually took a video. One of these days when we have time to edit it down, will certainly share.  A library room full of kids, sitting crisscross applesauce for 30 minutes? They fully engaged, contributed and brought me tons of energy. Feedback from my kids? My first grader has already requested me for her class’ career day next year.