bambeco summer look book

bambecosummerbook

In the world of fashion and home décor, the seasonal look book is a great tool to tell the product and design story to media, partners and other key influencers.  However, developing a printed collateral piece on behalf of an environmentally conscious company, is a challenge and necessitates a careful and thoughtful approach. Bambeco (www.bambeco.com) is a retail upstart working to define the home and décor space for all things eco.

Bambeco is online only (for now…) and they do not print a catalog because they haven’t found a way to justify the higher sales and marketing to offset the environmental impact of using the resources to print, produce and mail catalogs. So instead, the company relies heavily on PR and social media outreach to tell its story. Luckily, they have a very customer focused culture, a great story, easy to navigate website, and amazing seasonal collections that appeal beyond the conscious consumer.

Earth Day 2010 marked bambeco’s one year anniversary. They had a great opportunity to celebrate their anniversary in NYC by partnering with LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) for a series of influencer and media events. While in the city, we also scheduled some key desk side meetings for founder and CEO, Susan Aplin. For all of these reasons and more, we convinced bambeco to create a limited run of a summer look book. We promised to be economical with the choice of content, produce the book on recycled paper and limit the amount of books we mailed to media.

The business choice to practice eco policies mirror those choices faced every day by families or individuals endeavoring  to live their values.  It’s overwhelming.   As a wife and mother, I try to make conscious decisions that mitigate my family’s footprint.  We eliminated plastic water bottles 3 years ago and use (almost exclusively) re-usable shopping bags.  I think twice before making purchases.  Do we need it, can we re-use what we have and so on.  On the other hand, I drive a SUV that holds the big, 5 point harness car seats.  This feels like the safest choice to transport my 3 little girls.  I hope to drive a fuel friendly car when my kids outgrow the big car safety seats…

Back to bambeco and their decision to print a look book.  The end result was a great branded piece that was incredibly well received. Even late into the season, we continue to garner enthusiastic and positive response to the book.   If more people hear their message and fall in love with the green product choice, then we can sleep a little bit better and justify the “cost” of producing a printed book.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  Feels good.  Enjoy!

Best,  Kimberly

Bambeco Summer Preview

Warm weather months bring the promise of al fresco entertaining and leisurely summer dining. Today’s modern hostess favors colorful summer styles that are safe for the family and the environment.  At the same time our hostess does not want to pay more to live her green values.

At bambeco, their eco-chic décor and home furnishings celebrate the planet’s most renewable and versatile resource: bamboo. All-natural, organic and recyclable, these innovative products are both stylish and sustainable, striking a perfect harmony for this season’s outdoor festivities.

Whether for hosting backyard bashes, intimate dinners or weekend guests, bambeco offers a green alternative for every occasion.  Check out the Summer look book top picks that we can’t stop raving about.

Eco Picnic Basket
MakuTeak Lounge chairs
Laminated Square Coasters

For the complete bambeco summer look book, click the bambeco summer look book.

 

Austin Shines on April 30

There’s no shortage of talent flocking to Austin these days. musicians, filmmakers and restaurateurs find their feet in the hidden gem of Texas, and this spring, jewelry designers will have their day.

From local boutique owner Elizabeth Serrato, the brilliant mind behind the Second Street District’s style landmark, Eliza Page, a grand plan to host budding jewelry designers and industry veterans under one roof was born. The idea is so genius, yet so simple that we can’t help but wonder: why didn’t anyone think of this before?

Here’s the 411. On Friday, April 30, Eliza Page, will open its doors for the inaugural Austin Shines event, a day-long soiree of sorts, pairing up-and-comers with tricks of the jewelry trade. Starting at noon, panels led by Austin-area experts will explore topics like entrepreneurship, public relations, marketing, production and manufacturing in the 2nd Street District at 416 W. Cesar Chavez. Who better to kick off the festivities with a keynote address than our very own local design celebrity, Kendra Scott? Other notable names include Marques Harper of the Austin American-Statesman, Lauren Smith Ford of Tribeza and Gail Chovan of Blackmail boutique, just to name a few.

But wait, there’s more.

Aspiring jewelry designers have submitted collections for a chance sell their line at Eliza Page for three months and win a $1,000 Austin-area shopping spree courtesy of Launch 787. There are two chances to land the prizes, either by being named the “Judge’s Shining Star” or the “People’s Shining Star”, selected by Austinites in-store. The big winners will be announced at the evening cocktail reception following the speakers at 5:30pm.

Be sure to visit www.austinshines.com for more info. You won’t want to miss out on the social event of spring that’s sure to have the town talking.

AustinShinesRelease

Austin Shines

The Press Kit

Cover

View full e-kit:  KSPR e-kit

The company press kit has been such a mainstay of traditional public relations.  For a new company, new product, or launch event, the press kit was almost always the first tangible collateral piece created as a primary means of communicating to external audiences, the who, what and why.  Although the traditional press kit has gone the way of the landline telephone, the press kit (e-kit) continues to be an important way for companies to communicate brand, vision and mission.

The way we access and view them has moved primarily into digital format.   There are  exceptions by industry of course.  The interior design space still relies heavily on a beautiful, hardbound presentation that can show the magnitude and detail behind a designer’s work.   The press kit we developed for Baxter Design Group was a beautiful, visual and tactile experience designed to be an extension of their very high-end work.  We had an editor at a major design book thank us for sending her the press kit, calling it a “treat.”  When we followed up with her to confirm a project feature opportunity, she let us know that it  (press kit) was so beautifully designed and logical, it made her job “easy” and she couldn’t wait to work with us!

But this is the exception.  How many of us have been in newsrooms and editor offices and witnessed piles upon piles of un-opened press kit mailers?  Also, many more companies are responding to their own eco-initiatives and consumer sentiment by forgoing excessive collateral marketing materials that may look and feel wasteful.

It occurred to me end of last year that we should probably create our own company e-kit.  I think a website is still a powerful vehicle to tell a company story, but I find that few people look beyond the home page (unless it’s a great shopping or news site).  We partnered with The Design Boutique’s (www.thedesignboutique.com) Laney Silverman.  She is a SF based graphic designer we’ve worked with before.  When creating a branded piece, it’s crucial to partner with people who understand and share your taste level.  Goes back to “speaking the same language.”  This has been my PR mantra from the very beginning.

Some general tips before engaging a graphic designer:  1.  get 2-3 bids 2.  review their portfolio and look for works that are similar to your design vision and 3.  clearly understand the scope of project service (ie who does copy editing, how many rounds of editing, how many design layouts to choose from, timing and what final deliverables will look like, among other details).  If you think it’s a big project with lots of editing and layers of approval, you may want to negotiate a project fee verses an hourly designer rate.

So, after much inspired writing, design and round upon round of content and copy edits, we completed our first Kimberly Strenk PR, Inc., e-kit.  We welcome your feedback and hope you enjoy it.

Best,

Kimberly

Sizzle Reel

I’ve always been a big fan of video to tell a brand story.  A great video can create excitement and interest in a way that other communication tools such as press releases, power points, brochures, e-kits and static images cannot.

During my early Nordstrom days, I had the opportunity to see first-hand how corporate videos were produced and distributed amongst internal employee audiences to communicate events, changes and just get employees excited and proud to be at the company.  Over the years, as a PR manager/director at numerous companies, I helped produce many sizzle videos to be  shown at all-hands meetings, marketing retreats, brand conferences and the like.  Having been involved in so many video projects, it always surprised me how positive and enthusiastic the response was to even the most basic PR brand sizzle reels.  This clearly cemented my belief that a well planned and produced video was a powerful communication tool for any company to make a connection with its audience.

When contemplating a professional video project keep in mind that the time from ideation to filming, editing, sound mixing, music, production and numerous rounds of editing can be time consuming and costly.  The major cost factors depend on the type of video you need and the elements needed to make it happen (for instance, on location filming and professional talent call all increase the cost).

We just finished a video project for our eco furnishings client, bambeco.  We were able to stay on budget, keep the costs low and deliver a finished project in less than a month by spending the time up front planning, script writing and laying out and gathering all the assets before sending everything to video production.   We worked with Lava Studios in Austin, Texas.  They were a great partner, shared our urgency and very professional.  A great resource for photography was istockphoto.com.  Easy to search and purchase a variety of images.

The end result of much creativity, focus, and detailed work is a beautifully produced 3 minute sizzle reel that tells the bambeco story and communicates the essence of the brand to a broad audience.  We show a young brand that is visionary, exciting, energetic,  intelligent and design driven.   A well planned and executed video enables audiences to experience a brand without being told “this is what the brand is.”

From the initial script, shot sheet development, image selections, music choice, voice actor, and all the other elements involved, our goal was to create a compelling story and emotional connection to the brand.  Hope you enjoy it.  Please tell us what you think.

Eco-Style Within Reach

As we execute on bambeco.com’s spring 2010 plans, we are looking at this year’s 40th Anniversary Earth Day celebration in April.  This Earth Day also marks the one year anniversary of bambeco.com’s launch.  We’ve been working with bambeco since June of 2009.  If you follow our facebook.com/kimberlystrenkpr page,  you know their stylish brand of eco-home furnishings and décor is amazing and continues to grow in breadth and reach every day.

Following is one successful element from our client’s spring PR outreach.  We sent this to lifestyle and design magazines for inclusion in their April issues:

As you plan your Earth Day stories, consider some of the following eco-friendly gadgets and entertaining product ideas from bambeco.com.  Bambeco is the home furnishings and décor company where your eco-conscious style, intersects with your home and lifestyle needs.  Launched on Earth Day 2009, bambeco has quickly won customers and a loyal devoted fan base of followers (www.bambeco.com or twitter.com/bambeco).  Now more than ever, bambeco makes it easy to be green.

Following are a few of our picks from the new spring collection.

Green Entertaining

Soleil Serving Trays.  These Soleil Servings Trays are bold and striking with bright colors and made from 100% recycled material.  The trays are finished with 100% biodegradable polyurethane, giving them the feel of leather covering and protection for added water proofing. reg. $39.00 – $82.00

Made from 100% recycled materials. Finished with 100% biodegradable polyurethane.

Contempo Dinnerware Collection.  Available in 3 spring colors:  turquoise, ivory and lime.  Ceramic dinnerware made from natural clay and sealed with a food safe and earth friendly glaze.  All of the paints and dyes used in the coloring process are milk based.  Each piece is strong and durable for a long lasting dinnerware collection.  reg. $8.95 – $162.95

Ceramic dinnerware made from natural clay and sealed with a food safe and earth friendly glaze

Mosaic, Gate and Woodblock Collection.  Available in two colors:  Lake and Java.  A fresh take for the modern table, this geometric pattern mimics the intricate glass work of artisans.  Made from linen and cotton with low impact dyes.  $15.00 – $24.00

Made from 100% linen. Available in two colors: Java and Lake
made from 100% recycled bike chain parts

GREEN ENERGY

Aurora Glow String Lights.  Totally sustainable, hang beautiful Aurora Glow string lights once and enjoy their artisan glow every night!  Illuminate your outdoor spaces with beautiful and festive solar powered hand-blown glass string lights. Six lights crafted from colored and clear hand-blown glass and luminescent details adorn a clear wire and come complete with six high powered LED lights and copper hanging hooks. Aurora Glow string lights are powered by the sun, with a solar panel located nearly 15 feet away from the first glass globe. Plant or mount the solar collector away from the lights and enjoy the glow at night while collecting the maximum amount of sunlight during the day. reg $57.00

  

Solar powered, hand-blown glass string lights. Available in four colors: Sea Glass, Clear with Amber, Clear with White, Purple Sea Anemone

Seasonal Outreach

Much of my PR life has followed the rhythm of the seasons.  Living in the world of premium consumer products, we are always working one or two seasons ahead.  Christmas 2009 has already happened for us and we still have Halloween candy unwrapped!

Currently we are deep in the throes of spring 2010.  It’s always exciting to get a preview of what’s to come.

Right now we are looking at bambeco’s spring collection of eco-chic home furnishings and decor.  Initial products show a strong story developing in tabletop and beddings.   Now we begin examining the trends in design, such as shape, color and materials, then we begin tying it together in terms of themes.  At the same time we are thinking about what audiences might be interested in what stories.  Having lived in fashion and home furnishings world,  it’s interesting to note that trends in textiles and furniture tend to follow fashion by several seasons sometimes longer.  Clearly not all fashion trends make sense for the home, but even over the last couple years, design editorial has been looking and sounding more and more fashionable with an emphasis on seasonal updates and makeovers.  This is only a benefit for the consumer – who wants to look at the same home decor every season?  Even if you don’t want to change your look, it’s always inspirational to see what’s new.

Social Media – Results Now Please

A year ago, new clients did not mention or even ask about social media.  Today, it’s invariably the second question I get asked.  I tell clients not to get overwhelmed by this hugely influential, but unwieldy new medium.  Social media from a PR perspective doesn’t really change how we approach the business of telling a company story.  What has changed, has been the acceleration of time.  None of us want to wait for quarterly or monthly recaps, demographic reports, analysis and trend studies or for the 3-5 month lead time required by most consumer lifestyle magazines.  We want feedback and results on a daily basis.  Luckily,  this just makes my job more exciting and certainly interesting!

Social media platforms provide more opportunities to not only reach out direct to consumers and influencers, they allow us to target our information so that it’s more closely aligned by consumer’s specific interests.  Sounds simple, but there are now hundreds and thousands of potential consumers and influencers out there.  Where do we start?

As a PR professional, I look at these new audiences in terms of market segments.  My clients are lifestyle – food, fashion and home.  So for instance, my home clients, the market is centered on interior design.  Great, now we know we want to target interior design bloggers.  We can’t track them all, so let’s approach this in segments – let’s only monitor and engage the top bloggers in this space.  How do we do this? What qualifications are we looking  for?  Traditional media relies on demographic info, circulation and in the premium consumer lifestyle space, overall wow factor – how well a magazine stands out for visual artistry and influence.

In the social media world the metrics have changed.  For interior design space, we’ve found Technorati to have the best search for this particular industry.  For our food clients we are using other SM search tools, but that’s for another post.

My amazing intern, Jen pulled together the following information on Technorati.  Check it out and let us know if it works for you.

What is Technorati?: Technorati was founded as the first ever blog search engine. It generates comprehensive information on the blogosphere by indexing millions of blog posts and sorting them by tags, keywords and topic. Technorati also releases a “State of the Blogosphere Report” every year to analyze the trends and themes of blogging.

The new age of media: This is an important step for PR because people now look to bloggers for their expertise on trends, products and ideas. As the blogosphere continues to grow, the lines between blogs and mainstream media sites are becoming less clear.

How to do searches: Most people use Technorati for its blog search capability. You can search blogs or blog posts by keyword, tag or URL. You can also search the blog directory for blogs in certain categories (e.g. fashion/lifestyle blogs, business and finance blogs etc.).  Technorati also lets you browse top videos, photos and news articles to see what people are blogging about at that moment. Additionally, if you set up a profile, you can monitor your favorite blogs and specific topics.

What is Authority?: One way Technorati tracks the influence of a blog is through its Authority. Authority simply counts the number of blogs linking to a website within the last six months. The higher the number, the more people are linked to your blog and the higher the authority-It’s the who and what is most popular in the blogosphere. This approach also eliminates spammers looking to profit off traffic from keyword searches.

What’s new?: You can now claim your Twitter profile on Technorati. By doing this, you can use Technorati services to help make your Twitter more visible.

But What Do You Do?

I love meeting new people.  It’s always interesting to hear not only “what they do” but how they talk about what they do.  Lately I seem to have been out more than normal and have consequently had lots of opportunities to answer this question.  I’ve encountered many politely interested, but completely blank stares.  You can’t just say “I’m in public relations” and expect anyone to know what you’re talking about.  Thanks to Hollywood, apparently I plan parties ( I do of course, but that’s another post).

So, there are many ways to explain public relations but I will keep it somewhat generic and straight forward.  According to Wikipedia, public relations is “the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.[1] Public relations gains an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.[2] Because public relations places exposure in credible third-party outlets, it offers a third-party legitimacy that advertising does not have.

I like this definition because it reinforces the heart of PR – legitimacy.  Because the review, the coverage, the placement or story must be EARNED, each and every time – it maintains a credibility that advertising can never claim.  Don’t get me started on the ROI of PR versus traditional marketing and advertising.  There are so few hard costs associated with PR.  It really is about understanding your product/company/service, creating a great story and delivering it to the right audience(s).  Sounds simple of course, but it’s in the execution (a bit of luck and timing never hurts) that differentiates a successful campaign from a merely forgettable one.

So, next time you’re at a party and someone tells you they are in public relations, you can impress them with your thorough understanding of earned coverage versus paid placements.

Musings on PR

Welcome to my first official blog on my first official blog entry.  A brief explanation to the obvious – why blog?

I hope to use this as a forum to share best practices and open the proverbial kimono a bit more, share the process, thinking, and tactical execution that goes into the things we do for our clients.  Initially, I was worried that I might give away ”proprietary intellectual capital” but have come to realize that someone may be inspired or borrow some of the tactics or ideas, but no one can execute and deliver in the same way.  Social media has really moved the needle and opened up the floodgates to information that we have never been able to access.  In the spirit of sharing and connecting, I hope to contribute as well.

Some background.  I feel very lucky to have a “job” that I love.  The difference between owning my own agency and working in-house or at a big firm?  I feel truly vested and responsible to my clients at a whole new level.  It is a very one-to-one relationship.  I also get to choose the people I work with and qualify the products and services I represent.  This keeps my”pitch” honest and real.

Feel free to comment, share and visit.  I will try to keep the content relevant and fresh.  Enjoy,  Kimberly