What Makes You Smile?

Projects + Events

Imagine asking this question to some of the most iconic, celebrated, and successful names in NFL history: Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott, Roy Green, Jonathan Ogden, Eric Dickerson and Greg Lloyd. Well, I recently sat down and interviewed them for the making of a launch video. Be jealous, it was a surreal, pinch me moment. These amazing professional athletes were all charming, gracious and perfectly willing to help us film the story. Um, Mr. Marcus Allen can you repeat that line, but this time, with more of a smile?

How did this happen? Our client, Smile Brands Group, a national dental services organization has a wonderful foundation, Smiles For Everyone, a 501C3 charitable organization that has been giving free dental care to those in need, living in the most impoverished countries all over the world. The foundation had set a goal to deliver the same FREE dental care to underprivileged youth right here at home.

With the help of Monarch Dental offices in Dallas, and the individual members of the NFLPA Dallas chapter, a completely new project to address this need was born, Healthy Huddle Community Smile Project.

Why youth?

In the process of researching the dental care space and youth health, we were surprised to learn that 25 percent of the nation’s children have nearly 80 percent of the cavities (aapd.org/FastFacts). Clearly self esteem, good health and ability to smile go hand in hand.

And football is as American as, well, apple pie. Who better to deliver the message about good dental care than these sports heroes?

Check out the video and let me know what you think. When I watch this, seeing these football greats smiling, I know they’re smiling at me 🙂 .

Interview with Roy Green
Interview with Roy Green

We showed it for the first time to Dallas area media and the members of the Dallas chapter of the NFLPA at a recent launch event.

I’ll post a VLOG later that will show you some of the back story in the making of this video. Enjoy!

Getting a Head Start on a New Year

Projects + Events
Image

Don’t get me wrong, I love, love each and every moment of the holiday season. Extra time with family and friends, festive parties, and the demonstrated expressions of giving and gratitude are especially sweet. But as the Thanksgiving turkey and pumpkin pie buzz begins to lift, it feels like we are suddenly ringing in the New Year. The year’s end signals the time to prepare for the year to come. As we celebrate another great year at KSPR, here are just some of the key mantras buzzing in our heads as we plan for an even better 2014.

Don’t hit repeat. Data is your friend. Look at the initiatives and key programs that were successful and, more importantly, take a look at those that did not meet expectations. Define the metrics that matter. It’s tempting to stick with what you’ve done before but that’s a mistake. We are so busy and so focused on next, next, next that often we forget all that we accomplished. The year’s end is an opportunity to look at the big wins once again (this part is fun) and record best practices for next year. Just as critical, it is a chance to take a good, unemotional look at the efforts that did not yield the desired results. Best lessons to carry forward are often learned when things did not execute perfectly.

Reinvent. Learn from wins and losses but always keep space for something new and brilliant. We are not about plugging into existing templates and calling it done. This is not strategic and will not garner the big, shiny wins. One of my favorite anecdotes occurred early on in building my company; a prospective client asked within 10 minutes of our very first meeting, “Well, what will you do for me?” Sorry, but if what you do is so generic that I can plug it into a PR playbook, than you need more than PR, you need a really big, really robust marketing and advertising budget. The intersection of fresh ideas and focused execution is what differentiates us from the rest.

Focus on the product. Our clients are firmly in the consumer products and services space. We meet with them to understand where they want to go next. What are the key investments planned? What products and services did their customers buy and what was left on the shelf?  Why? What products and services continue into next year? What are the new introductions and when? What is marketing and sales planning to do to support? In the course of these discussions, we plan accordingly for seasonal, launch and event initiatives around core and new products and services. Deep in the trenches of metrics and planning, we never lose sight of the product.

New metrics. Once key product manufacturing and deliveries are confirmed, we put ourselves in the planning stages of these marketing and sales discussions so that PR initiatives are aligned with the business. If we can influence and align at the planning stages, we are doing all that we can to ensure that efforts and resources are aligned with the important metrics for business success. This is how we ensure our relevancy and seriously, this makes what we do much more interesting. No one here likes execution for the sake of execution. Results tied to metrics of business success are where we live to work.

In our world, Christmas in July is a reality as the consumer magazines search for the best of the best for their holiday gift guides. By the time the holidays are under way, feeling a little ‘been there done that.’ But the planning and strategy for what’s next has always been the fun part. Thinking about next year won’t take my enjoyment away from the actual holiday festivities. In fact, they will be that much sweeter with the knowledge that we are prepped and ready for what’s on the horizon. Here’s to a wonderful holiday season and anticipation for more to come in the New Year.

Where the Brands are the Stars

Projects + Events
expowest_brands

If you have never been to one of the big consumer trade shows, you are missing out on a great opportunity to really get to know an industry and marketplace from an on-the-ground perspective.

As a consumer, it is the one place you can learn, explore and experience hundreds, sometimes thousands of consumer products by industry (electronics, games, food, natural, housewares etc.) all in one place. If you work in a particular industry or you are interested in getting into a new one, I highly recommend the experience. It can be overwhelming — wear comfortable shoes and sport a positive, engaging attitude. Be prepared to absorb, listen and learn.

Our agency focuses on specialty, premium and natural brands, and clients often use trade shows such as Fancy Foods, International Housewares, and Natural Products Expo to introduce new products or to launch a new brand.  In fact, I just returned from Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim. I was there to support two of our eco specialty brands – Tints of Nature and BlueAvocado. Tints of Nature no longer sets up a booth at the show (their sales distribution channel is pretty set). They now attend the show to see what is happening with other beauty brands and more importantly to meet with their regional field sales reps and acknowledge their success and hard work..

Our eco lifestyle essentials client, BlueAvocado, attended Expo West to preview their 2013 product collections for buyers and media. They had an amazing show.  The NPE is the show for specialty natural and organic products to showcase among their peers. The audience is educated and interested in all things eco + sustainable. Since BA has a great sustainable impact story on top of beautiful, chic and functional eco products, this was the perfect place to show their new collections.

I spent most of the show at the BlueAvocado booth. Because our clients are generally young brands, time at the booth provides a fantastic opportunity for face time with the founders and/or C level executives. Nothing beats listening and learning from the people whose vision and hard work created the company itself. I also learned a lot from the sales teams. While sales and PR are certainly different worlds, I have always understood the value of being engaged with the P&L folks. If these people can’t sell the product, the company will not survive. I love to listen and to learn from this core crew. What they say and do does not directly impact the creation of press materials and messaging, but they influence all. When creating press materials and key messages I always have an eye on the company’s direction and focus, this team has a large, if indirect, impact on how I tell their story.

For me the best part of this show was the opportunity to walk around and see all of the natural and organic products that I personally love and use every day — I was more than a little giddy. I was also able to meet a few aspiring eco entrepreneurs and to hear about and test their new products. Many of these impressive business people happened to be women: such a great reminder that we can all make our dreams happen. Many of the big “rock star” brands at the show all started with a single vision and a dream for a better, more sustainable future. I was more than just a little star struck at this amazing show where the brands really are the stars.

We Like To Build Things

Errant Musings
lego-shoes

We are all good at different things.  But what makes some people thrive while others flat line or simply falter?  The key is to understand what kind of employee you are. Regardless of title, we all answer to someone.  As a business founder and manager, my goal is to hire for the best skill set needed + personality fit.  As adept as I think I am at “peeling the onion,” you simply never know what you get until they walk in the door and start running.  And if they don’t run, well that presents a different set of problems!

But I digress.  The purpose of this post is to say that at the midway point of my PR career I have found my “good.”  I am a builder.  I like to create things.  Once I started my namesake agency and tried on several different types of clients, at various life stages, I soon found my good spot.  Servicing young companies at the just-launched, but no one knows who we are or what we do phase has become a perfect fit.  I meet a new client with a great product or service, I see endless possibilities to create and build something special.

To that end, here’s a sneak peak at a new ad (yes, an ad, not editorial placement), we created for our client, UK based Tints of Nature.  They are a global beauty brand, available in 38 countries.  We are in charge of helping them to build their nascent but growing US business.  But why would a boutique PR agency be creating advertising?  Back to my original point – I am a builder.  Running my namesake firm has removed the impediments of layers and decision by committee, as well as silo verticals that many large companies suffer from.  We don’t work with big companies with big budgets.  We service the great ideas. Sometimes we do things that are not traditional.  If it helps our clients define their brand and grow their business, we build it.

A shout out to our fantastic graphic design partner, Omnibus Designs. We’ve worked with them for many years and we always look forward to the magic.

Happy building,

Kimberly

Preview of Ad for Feb issue Austin Monthly

The Economy Isn’t Pretty But I Still Look Fabulous

Projects + Events

Tints of Nature US

Has the economic downturn affected consumer’s beauty routines?  Intuitively we think the answer must be yes.  When budget tightening hits, don’t we all re-examine what we need and what we want?   But somehow the line between needs and wants has blurred considerably. It’s much more difficult in our hyper aware, consumer driven times to consider giving up our “wants” that we have come to think of as essential, “needs.”  What can we do?

The onslaught of DIY home décor and renovation shows tells us that we are taking on more DIY projects in our homes, but does this DIY mentality translate to our beauty routines?  Are we visiting the salon less and perhaps adopting a DIY mentality to our most cherished beauty routines?

We tapped into traditional research reports and online media coverage to find a few faq’s and news articles to support our hypothesis @ growth of DIY beauty.  We also looked at the proliferation of YouTube every day beauty stars such as Kandee Johnson, Michelle Phan, and Bubz Beauty. Some of our favorite, popular beauty blogs include MakeUpAlley, BeautySnob and Stylelist.  These all feature every day people as beauty experts, sharing and comparing all manner of beauty related topics.

Armed with this, our team of working moms (me) and college/post- college not-quite fashion slaves but enthusiastic, maybe-not-quite-addicted fashion trenders set out to test our beauty assumptions among our friends and friends of friends.  Our reach went West from Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, to Southern cities Houston, Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and East to New York.

We created an informal beauty survey, “The Economy Isn’t Pretty But I Still Look Fabulous.”  Our goal was to get enough anecdotal data to support our intuitions about DIY beauty in order to provide additional heft for our client’s upcoming launch of a new organic based, premium at home coloring and care brand.

Some interesting findings:

  • Over 60% of respondents stated that a good hair day meant a more confident attitude
  • However, almost 40% acknowledged that visits to the salon had decreased in the past year due to economic strain
  • An even 50% color their hair
  • Of all respondents, 40% color their hair at home (this surprised all of us but given the high concentration among college age folks, might make more sense)
  • Given the choice of an organic based hair color product, over 60% of these same respondents would be interested in an organic product!

All in all, a fun way to tap into our circles and affirm our thinking.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

Virgin Tour, SXSW

Projects + Events

Although I have lived in Austin for the past 4 years, this year marked my first SXSW.  I consider myself a regular to other destination events here in town, but SXSW is clearly the BIG one putting Austin on the radar beyond Tex Mex, live music and a laid back lifestyle.

Luckily I had some help navigating this new world.  Vaidehi is a senior member of our account management team.   Vaidehi (“Vai”) also happens to be a SXSW veteran from her days as a NYC based music publicist representing some very indie bands (read:  Bands too cool for me to have ever heard about!).

My primary observation:  the music world has its own language, hierarchy and style, that to an outsider requires some pre-briefing.  Following are Vai’s glossary of very important terms:

  • Filter and Paste = established music magazines that throw core SX parties
  • Fader = a fashion + music magazine that has the biggest SX parties
  • Shoegazing = when a band endlessly distorts vocals/tunes in rock (Vai tells me there’s a lot of this with indie rock bands)
  • Band members = easily recognizable, tight skinny jeans (they probably sleep in, because they look impossible to remove), biker boots, fitted graphic tees, disheveled hair.
  • Music editors (hopelessly devoted groupies) = Similar to the band members they stalk, with a slight difference:  skinny jeans but with flannel shirts, sneakers, and often times fake glasses.
  • Music publicists (glorified groupies) = Similar to editors – often vintage clothing, baggy skirts or shirts, fedoras.
  • Band member’s girlfriends = retro chic.  The most pristinely dressed out of music-related industry.
  • Mangers/Lawyers = always a blazer worn over a typical hipster outfit.

Some highlights from our tour:

Filter party, Paste party, CNN crew, Austin Convention Center (the SX mecca), and dropped by the BMF Media (famous for their client, Perez Hilton) private VIP retreat, which KSPR helped sponsor.  See images below:

All in all, a very good first tour.  I’ll be ready next year with my proper groupie attire.

Hook ’em,

Kimberly

One Year One Video

Projects + Events

We put this video recap together for our awesome client, bambeco. Last year (2010) was our first full year working with this emerging, powerhouse eco-retailer.  It is always a challenge summarizing your work in any format, but I think we did a good job capturing bambeco’s story in this short video.  Let us know what you think!

Call out to Vance Spicer, a NY based music and video producer for creating this with us.  Surrounding ourselves with smart + creative people always makes us look good.

Best,

Kimberly

RISE Logo

RISE Austin, PR for Small Business

Errant Musings, Projects + Events

Very often I am asked to share PR insights and best practices.  PR is such a misunderstood profession that I relish these opportunities to share, educate and inspire.  My goal is to break down PR myths, one presentation at a time.   Just this past week for example I had the chance to host a RISE (Relationship and Information Series for Entrepreneurs) session, “PR for Small Business.”

Although, PR should be such an integral part of any business, most business owners don’t approach PR with an understanding of how it fits into their overall business strategy.   My focus for the session was to provide a solid framework for thinking about a business-aligned communication strategy.  That is to say, to create guidelines for all external communications. Businesses need to have a proactive approach to PR as opposed to a reactive approach, i.e. they should actively seek PR opportunities that will move the needle on their business, not just respond to whatever might come their way. In order to create a true business communications strategy, PR should have a seat at the table when business goals are being mapped out.  If not, a true business aligned communications strategy is not a realistic goal.

When I launched my namesake firm almost 3 years ago, I began with a simple premise that has guided my business; I stick to what I know and love and the business will grow.  I was fortunate to have learned the craft and honed my skills while working with some of the most respected and beloved consumer brands, from Williams Sonoma to Nordstrom and many companies in between. An insider perspective is what is needed to create and sustain a brand that evokes a positive, loyal consumer response.  There is no magic bullet.  Understanding smart PR and being able to execute consistently in partnership with marketing is a powerful business driver.

Kimberly Strenk PR is a boutique lifestyle PR agency.  We focus on promising young companies in the premium brand space.  Premium is not about a price point.  In our lexicon, it means that a company delivers on their consumer promise.   Sound simple?  Companies have to do what they say they will do and offer up products and services that delights the consumer.   That is why we are successful delivering consistent and sometimes spectacular results; the story is real. That is when PR can be realized as a truly powerful and strategic asset.

With that, let’s jump right in:  Common (PR) Myths

Common Myths

  • You need a big budget. Social media and proliferation of specialized boutique agencies makes it easier to do PR on a smaller budget.
  • Editorial = Advertising. Editorial is not the same as advertising. Editorial is earned. Advertising is paid.  Talk about ROI!.
  • If I could just get on Oprah. A press hit like this is a gift, say thank you and move onto a sustainable + strategic plan.
  • It’s all about spin. Authenticity is the benchmark. Consumers have a voice because of social media.  Be real, be consistent and deliver on the consumer promise.  A company that relies on their PR agency to “spin” the story will not be sustainable in today’s environment of instant publication and connectivity.
  • Just do it. There is no short cut.Competitive analysis and smart planning BEFORE execution will always pay dividends.

Simple Truths

  • Be real. Avoid hyperbole.  Are you really the only, the fastest, the first and the best?
  • Keep it simple. No jargon or trendy catchphrases, please.
  • Focus is your friend. Prioritize.  None of us can do it all, all of the time.
  • Let the story unfold. As your business grows and captures important milestones, always communicate the vision and let the facts speak for themselves.
  • Share. So busy moving forward and executing day to day, don’t forget to communicate your successes.

Now that we have some basic ground rules, how do we get started?

Getting Started: Internal

  • Who are you. What’s your story.  How did you get here?
  • What makes you special. Understand what makes you stand out from the crowd.  Be able to articulate this.
  • Identify key influencers.  Who are the people in your industry, in your marketplace and in your social circle who can impact your business?  Identify these influencers and prepare to reach out to these folks.
  • Build your network.  You can’t do this alone.  From employees, to vendors and contractors, surround yourself with talented and smart people that can become trusted advisers beyond their individual contributor role.

You’ve done your homework, let’s start communicating.

Getting Started: External

  • Feedback. AKA “friendly bullet proofing” is the first stop.  Ask people in your network to listen to your story and have them tell you what they think.  Do people outside your industry understand your story?  Are you compelling?  If not, why not?
  • Prioritize your battles. Again, remember to focus and prioritize.  Don’t get discouraged and feel overwhelmed.  There’s a lot you could do.   What can you do today? And what can be pushed out?
  • Be consistent across all touch points. Your brand should look and feel the same everywhere. Think about how adults process and learn, as espoused by “Consciousness of Competence” theory.  Basically, an adult has to see a message/new idea four different times to really process and learn it.   This theory of adult learning can be applied to branding as well. Logos, business cards, web sites, FB, twitter and messages all need the same look and feel.  Create an identity kit and share it with all your contractors and business partners who work on your behalf.  Everyone should speak with the same voice.
  • Low hanging fruit. Long-term goals are essential to your business, but short-term goals will serve to give you momentum and open up immediate opportunities. Local based business?  Reach out to your local editor who covers your industry and book a meeting.  These folks are tasked to cover their beat in their local market.  They are always looking for great new products and services to share with their readers. Don’t make all your wins long term: you need some achievable wins in the short term, too.

The participants generated some great dialogue and discussion points.  I encourage them and you to post questions on our FB wall facebook.com/kimberlystrenkpr.

Here’s link to the PPT preso I used:  Austin RISE 2011, PR for Small Business.  Was this helpful?  Do you have other tips or best practices that worked for your business?

Best,

Kimberly

Sunrise in San Francisco

A Look Back

Errant Musings

Kimberly Strenk PR 2010 Sizzle

I’m excited to see what this year will bring.   The holidays were filled with so much joy and energy.  Each moment with our 3 little girls was truly so precious and f-u-n.   It’s impossible to talk about my family without sounding saccharine, even to my own ears (!), but it is a very, very, sweet moment in our lives.  I am grateful.

I was also feeling the itch to get back on schedule.  It began slowly, intermittently, but increasing in velocity very quickly: thoughts, tangents, ideas, plans swirling in my head each night and again in the mornings.  So, before I dive headlong into this New Year, I want to pause for a brief moment and reflect on another growing year running my namesake firm.  Funny, when I incorporated the business, I really did not give it much thought beyond, well it’s a name I’ll remember.  I do recall I wanted to keep it simple. Clever or obtuse has never been my mantle.

There were so many ups, downs, hits, misses and amazing moments.  Too many to remember in one post.  It was a year of very focused media relations for all of our clients.  We kept a relentless focus.  In the premium lifestyle space, consumer magazines still rule.

We made great relationships and garnered wins in the new media/social media space.  However, the right placements in top-tier consumer magazines moved the needle, with measurable result to the bottom line for our clients.  Anyone in PR (read public relations, not just “publicity”) understands that so much more is involved than media relations, but it (publicity) is one of the most measurable and tangible returns clients, investors, other stakeholders, employees and especially customers, want to see.  Editorial wins still matter.  They are hard earned and still elicit that oh-so-fleeting, but triumphant moment of happy.  This year had many moments of happy.

I enter this year excited and prepared to move the needle a little more.  Thanks for reading.

Best,  Kimberly