Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Causes we care about

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 23, 2011

snowball_express_logo.jpg 

The Courage Cup Charity Golf Tournament for Snowball Express
The mission of Castle client Snowball Express is to create hope and new memories for children and family members of our fallen military heroes who have lost a loved one in combat since September 11, 2001. Snowball accomplishes this goal by creating events across the country that bring these families together as a community, allowing them to spend time with others like them, share their stories, celebrate their loved ones, create new relationships, and most importantly, realize that they have not been left behind.
snowball_logo_image

On Monday, April 18, 2011, American Airlines and Fort Worth Air Power Foundation are hosting The Courage Cup, a charity golf tournament to benefit Snowball Express. The tournament will be held at the exclusive Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA. The event includes breakfast, 18 holes of spectacular golf, an awards lunch for all players and sponsors, and an exciting silent auction. Please join in and support Snowball Express and all of the incredible work they do for military families throughout the year

At Castle, we’re proud to support Snowball Express and its mission to help these families. For more information, contact Callie Ziobro at Castle, (617) 337-9533.

CWE Logo

The Center for Women & Enterprise’s Annual Auction & Gala Celebration will be Saturday, April 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Seaport Hotel and will feature a blockbuster live auction, cocktails, dinner and entertainment.

We encourage you to support CWE and its mission to transform lives by creating opportunities for women to become economically self-sufficient and prosperous through business and entrepreneurship.

This year’s goal is to raise $450,000 to help provide classes and services to all women, regardless of their ability to pay. For tickets, more information or to participate as a sponsor, please contact Mickey Riendeau at mriendeau@cweonline.org or (617) 532-0233.
Big Sister Logo

More than 300 girls are hoping for the chance to be matched with a Big Sister. There is also a particular need in Big Sister’s school-based program where women mentor girls once a week for 45 minutes during a girl’s lunch time. There are girls waiting in South End, Allston, Cambridge and Quincy schools.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Big Sister or to set up an information session at your company or with other organizations that you may belong to (e.g., churches, sororities and professional groups), please email Sheena Collier.

Congratulations to Big Sister for 60 years of service!

Big Sister 60 Years

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Social Tuesday: old school/new school marketing mix

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 22, 2011

If you see a lot of kids wearing pink today it’s because of “Pink in School.” Pink in School is an anti-bullying initiative run through Facebook. On the initiative’s Facebook page, Pink in School encourages its fans to wear pink on Tuesday, March 22, and to upload a profile picture of them wearing pink or, better yet, the official Pink in School T-shirt to take a stand against bullying and to increase awareness of the issue.

The Pink in School T-shirts are free and provided by Shirts in School, a marketing services company that pays high school and college students to wear T-shirts imprinted with other companies’ messages. Shirts in School started and organizes the initiative as a non-profit version of its services. The concept of Shirts in School is simple and effective. Students sign up on Facebook to receive their free T-shirts; to get paid, they must wear them in school for at least one day. In addition to wearing the shirt, the students must post their photo wearing the shirt on Facebook and other social media outlets, as well as a link to or a post about the advertiser. This way, companies not only get publicity value, but can easily monitor reactions to a campaign based on the posts of the participants and the comments by their friends. The students get paid $ 10 a day and can keep the shirt. Their schools receive an additional $2 as an incentive to support the concept.

Shirts in School’s marketing method successfully combines traditional word of mouth marketing with social media efforts. After the first participants had signed up, the concept “went viral,” says president of Shirts in School Richard Whitney. Now, an average of about 200 students signs up every day. It’s a win-win situation: students get free clothing and Shirts in School gives advertisers access to a highly desirable but hard to reach target group of 14-to-21 year-olds.

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Castle welcomes Burns & Levinson, Grant Thornton

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 21, 2011

Castle welcomes law firm Burns & Levinson as a new client. A highly regarded mid-sized law firm with offices in Mass., New York and Rhode Island, Burns & Levinson place a special emphasis on partnership and collaboration with its clients.

Castle is also pleased to announce that Grant Thornton, an international audit, tax and advisory organization specializing in auditing, management consulting, corporate finance, risk management and information technology, joins our list of clients.

“We’re honored to have been retained by these prestigious professional services firms,” said Castle Principal Sandy Lish. “These relationships allow us to flex all of our marketing muscles–traditional media relations, social media, speaking, awards and networking strategies–and work alongside talented in-house marketers.”

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Spring cleaning your communications tools

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 18, 2011

Spring isn’t officially here yet, but we’re impatient. Here in the beautiful Charlestown Navy Yard, it’s been a blustery, slippery, tough-to-navigate winter. So we’re thinking ahead to the springtime, and along with all the good things that implies, it also brings spring cleaning to mind.

Getting rid of old, stale, unused junk; sprucing up a somewhat tired area; turning a fresh eye to something that’s been sitting around. We’re not just talking about our work areas or homes — we’re talking about communications.

Here are 10 communications tools you can refresh with some spring cleaning:

  1. Crisis communications plan: Do you know where it is? Do you even have one? This is a good reminder to pull out your plan and do a refresh. If your plan was built even a couple of years ago, it’s likely out of date due to the fast-moving world of social and digital media. Contacts have probably changed. In fact, the world has changed, and your plan must change with it.
  2. LinkedIn profile: When did you first create your profile? Chances are your business description, job, professional affiliations (even your head shot) have changed at least slightly. Help your important contacts receive the right messages by putting the right information in there. And LinkedIn is constantly adding and evolving, so take a look at how you’re posting content, participating in groups, using your network to your advantage.
  3. Desk: Well, of course you need to unclutter your work area. Today, when so many of us are working from smart phones, iPads and virtual offices, your “home base” work area can get a bit neglected. We guarantee that if you dig through those papers on your desk, you will rediscover a great idea you put aside, or a business card that you meant to add to your database.
  4. Unscheduled meetings: We all have them — the appointments we keep meaning to schedule that somehow get postponed and then fall off the radar. Think about the handful of people you meant to have a lunch or coffee with. There was a good reason you wanted to connect. You still can. And should.
  5. Contracts: Our events clients, in particular, contract with numerous properties and vendors, and we negotiate on their behalf. We’ve seen contracts that they have used for years, and found ways to better leverage those contracts. Worth blowing off the dust and taking another look.
  6. Grammar: “Me” vs. “I.” That’s the one that really gets our goat. In honor of Strunk and White, we can all teach our teams, interns — even our kids — to clean up that grammar.
  7. Boilerplate: You use it all the time, in every news release. But do you ever look at it to make sure it reflects who you are today? Does it have links in it? Look it over and clean up that boilerplate.
  8. Website: We know as well as anybody, it is a LOT of work. Our new website is ALMOST done, and cleaning up a website (or in our case building a new one) is a massive task. But times have probably changed since you last took a good, hard look. There are more reasons to update your website than we can list here. But the best one: it is the first place your customers and clients will look, and it should reflect who you are.
  9. Facebook page: Facebook is constantly changing — maybe a little too much — but its latest refresh presents a very different page layout that will impact your organization’s page. To start, take a look at the photo strip that now sits atop your page and clean it up to reflect your brand.
  10. Email lists: You send out email blasts and receive those “undeliverable” notices. Take a few moments to scrub your contact lists. And be sure to add new prospects and clients to keep your database up-to-date and fresh.

Now once that’s all done, go home and start cleaning out the garage.

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Social Tuesday: With a little help from my friends

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 16, 2011

Social media is becoming the number one crisis communication device. Not only is it used for fixing a damaged image or restarting a career, it also serves as a much-needed platform for gathering information and mobilizing volunteers, as in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake and the Brisbane floods.

Currently, Facebook, Twitter etc. promote and support relief efforts in Japan and help the population reconnect. Many organizations and companies like the Red Cross or Groupon use social media to make support for Japan as easy as possible – some as easy as a mouse click. Spark Energy is adding an additional dollar to its donation to Japan for every person that “likes” one of the company’s Facebook pages by the end of the month. So instead of putting your hands in your pockets, all you have to do is give a thumbs up online.

But social networkers may use all ten fingers to help. Facebook’s online games FarmVille and Café World currently include purchases benefiting Japan. FarmVille players can buy Japanese radish crop and the chefs at Café World can buy Japanese décor. All proceeds go to Save the Children.

As for other information and reconnecting people, social media is in high demand in both Japan and the U.S. Despite blackouts, Japan’s Internet availability fortunately is relatively stable and, without a working phone system, an unmatched device to stay in touch with loved ones. Shortly after the quake, 1,200 tweets per minute were sent from Tokyo alone. Google published a Japanese version of its People Finder (see also last week’s blog entry). Within the U.S., the tsunami’s estimated times of arrival on U.S. shores were available on Twitter before the official government warning. And one of Japan’s top social media companies, Mixi, raised more than $1.5 million dollars for relief efforts in only two days.

Stay social.

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Social Tuesday: Social media boosts fame, helps in crisis

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 10, 2011

Social media and fashion are apparently a match made in heaven. Social media devices like live streaming, Facebook pages, blogs and videos fuel online discussions on brands and designers and result in thousands of new fans and followers. Curve ID jeans, for instance, “cheekily” uses YouTube to demonstrate their product’s effectiveness. Result: Nearly seven million views. Bebe’s new blog earned the fashion brand 66,428 new fans and a sixth-place ranking on fans and followers-surveying famecount.com. Victoria’s Secret invites brides to view – and purchase – the new collection of whites at an online shop, resulting in 69,000 new fans. And Burberry’s fashion show live stream attracted more than 100,000 fans. First place on Famecount goes to Converse, with more than 175,000 new fans. Converse.com not only lets visitors watch videos or shop online, they can also create their own sneakers. Together with its All Star sneaker line, Converse to date has 23 million + fans.

Finding lost persons is the idea behind Google’s Person Finder. Originally created with the U.S. Department of State to find lost persons in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, the website is presently used to help victims of the Christchurch Earthquake. The Person Finder can be found on a website launched by New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission. The site further features reports, videos and information on accommodation, alerts and volunteers. Its users can easily submit important information via Twitter.

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Social Tuesday: It takes two – combining social media for success

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 8, 2011

Hotels in Myrtle Beach, SC are joining social media with a website to compete with travel sites for last-minute offers. On the Myrtle Beach Facebook page, the tab “This Friday” features hotels’ last-minute specials for the upcoming Friday. The “This Friday” tab also links directly to MyrtleBeachHotels.net, a website for last-minute hotel deals in Myrtle Beach. Using social media and their own websites, hotels avoid the 30 percent commission they would otherwise have to pay at a travel site.

Shopping hub Hubzi blends online shopping with social media. While the website serves a similar purpose to Craigslist, Hubzi lets vendors create a profile listing contact information, contact person, ads, and products links or videos to boost the buyers’ trust in them. Customers can post comments and reviews on vendor profiles.

Kraft Foods uses a combination of tweets to promote one of their products. Whenever two people tweet the phrase “mac & cheese” at the same time, both get a link leading to the “Mac & Jinx” promotion, where they are asked to give Kraft their address. The person to submit their info first gets five free boxes of Kraft’s Mac & Cheese and a T-shirt.

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Social Tuesday: To like is to share – Facebook promotions

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 1, 2011

Recently, Facebook’s Like button has become more of a promotion tool. “Liking” something now results in a full wall post complete with story, blurb and thumbnail that won’t be easily overlooked.

However, there are more sophisticated – and fun – ways to use Facebook as a promotional tool.

NBC, for instance, rewards everyone who watches the trailer for its new show “America’s Next Great Restaurant” on the show’s Facebook page – to date liked by 215,378 users – with a free Chipotle meal. Concurrently, Chipotle is conducting an in-store texting promotion that offers customers the chance to win a catered burrito party.

But carnal instincts are not the only motivation to Facebook users’ attention. The Facebook application FrontierVille serves as a promotion tool for the animated movie “Rango,” which will be released this weekend. Rango, a chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp, appears as a character in the online game, and players must watch the movie trailer in order to add a Rango statue to their homestead. Active FrontierVille users: about 19 million.

 

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Social Tuesday: Tag the dog – Facebook, Twitter, social media campaign

Posted by thecastlegroup on February 16, 2011

Social media connects friends, coworkers…and pets. To find a home for the cats and dogs that needed it the most, the Oregon Humane Society featured them on Facebook and Twitter. Employing social media yet again turned out to be the right strategy. The pets found a new home, and the OHS Facebook page has presently nearly 13,000 fans.

More than puppy love was shared this Valentine’s Day by the world’s most famous dolls Barbie and Ken. After their divorce in 2004, the couple was “voted back together” in a genius social media campaign by Mattel including Barbie on Twitter (presently 34,227 followers), a Barbie and Ken website and (back then) individual Facebook pages (since their reunion, Barbie and Ken are “on the same page” again, and share 1,738,557 fans!) Least surprised by the revived romance is Mattel. With the Valentine’s Day reunion, the Barbie and Ken Gift Set went on sale, and Barbie’s (and Ken’s) Facebook page turned into an online store. Can’t buy me love?

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Social Tuesday: Super social Sunday, super social week

Posted by thecastlegroup on February 9, 2011

This year’s Super Bowl Sunday showed how social media tie-ins keep brands and products on the consumer’s mind long after the commercials – or the Super Bowl – are over. Ranging from free pizza to winning a Mercedes Benz, in their Super Bowl social media campaigns companies rewarded consumer engagement with goodies. For instance, Budweiser let fans guess the storylines to their three Super Bowl ads on Facebook. Once all three storylines were guessed correctly, an exclusive, internet-only fourth ad was revealed. As a result, online discussions about this year’s Super Bowl commercials increased by 9 percent from last year.

Posting Super Bowl ads on YouTube before airing them also turned out to be a winning strategy for creating a social media buzz: Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial went viral and got 1.5 million views in the first two days. Another Super Bowl social media winner was Foursquare. The location-based social networking website went global for its first promoted venue and attracted 200,000 football fans, making Super Bowl Sunday their most popular venue so far.

Following the Super Bowl, Social Media Week kicked-off this week in nine cities around the globe. In the U.S., New York City and San Francisco are hosting the global conference that features panel discussions and workshops and connects social media professionals to discuss emerging trends. Read up on the event’s local and global blogs or follow it on twitter to keep up with the latest developments.

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