Two-Way Street

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

Archive for the ‘fun stuff and more’ Category

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 If your plan was built even a couple of years ago, it’s likely out of date due to the fast-moving world of social and digital media.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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How long are elfs’ ears – Holiday Season 2010

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 20, 2010

Please read below the 2010 musings of “Castle kid” Lila in her annual letter to Santa. (Read Lila’s 2009 letter.)

Dear Santa,

Hi, I have some things I was wondering! How long are elfs’ ears?  How can you go around the world in one night? Do you ever have time when you don’t have to work? Do you have different rooms for everything you do? What do you do with the reindeer that don’t fly your sled? How does your sack fit all the presents in it?  How come you only use eight specific reindeer and not your other ones?  Do you have names for all your reindeer?  How can you tell which reindeer is which? How can you put all the presents under the tree without waking up and how do you know when not to come and when to come because someones awake? How does Mrs. Claus help you prepare for Christmas? Why do you want us to give you cookies and milk?  How do you stay away from pets? How do you fit down the chimney? How long do reindeer live for? Do you ever wish you had one more day before you had to deliver all the presents? Do you always wear the same red coat and pants and black belt and black shoes?  How old are you? How do you not get full of cookies and milk?  What do you do if somebody sees you?  Hope you write back and have safe flying!!



What are your holiday questions?

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BREWBoston and Take Flight!

Posted by thecastlegroup on September 29, 2010

Heard about BREWBoston?

This is a month-long celebration of entrepreneurship in Boston. There are a series of events, discussions and social media platforms – lots of ways to engage.

This is very much a community-driven effort — new events, sponsors and participants can become part of the celebration in a very fluid way.

Mass High Tech publisher and Castle friend Doug Banks is part of a really fun event that combines networking and paper airplane-building. Sadly, my skills are lacking, but we’ll see what Doug and his cohorts come up with.

Take Flight! event details:

You’ll get a chance to showcase your creative talent by flying your own custom-designed paper airplane (we’ll provide the supplies for a $5 donation to The Engineering School) against those designed by technology leaders including Doug Banks, Publisher of Mass High Tech, Matthew Growney, CEO of Isabella Products, co-founder of Rudyard Partners, and Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy Columnist at The Boston Globe. Winners of the competition will receive great prizes like an Ambient Flurry Alarm Clark + Weather Forecast, Vizit two-way photo sharing frame, or tickets to the Museum of Science.
Registration is free but space is limited. Hope you’ll take flight with us on the 12th!
The Engineering School (TES) is a Boston public high school formed in 2005 as a response to the dramatic gap in the number of women and people of color in the field of engineering. TES’s mission is to provide young women, African-American and Latino students a pathway to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). In addition, the school has a 30% population of students with disabilities and is committed to developing an inclusive engineering curriculum for all students regardless of ability. For more information about The Engineering School, please contact Marc Abelard,

Feel free to send me pictures or video of your paper airplane skills and we’ll post them on Castle’s Facebook page and with BREWBoston.

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2nd BWP Odd Pairing Experiment

Posted by thecastlegroup on September 22, 2010

Sick of the same old events? Boston World Partnerships, an economic driver that I am proudly part of, is hosting its 2nd Odd Pairing Experiment. The first was a great mix of very different speakers, tons of meaningful attendees and an awesome venue. 

This next one promises the same. Here are details. 

Join Boston World Partnerships’ Connectors for our 2nd Odd Pairing Experiment.  Panelists will lead an interactive discussion on the topic of how organizations tell their stories. 

Damon Jones, Global Communications Director, Procter & Gamble, and former Director of Press Relations for the 2008 Democratic National Committee

Howard Anderson, Distinguished Senior Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan, Founder of The Yankee Group, and Co-Founder of Battery Ventures

Chris Colbert, Founder of the marketing agency Holland Mark, and sherpa of FutureM

Susan Rodgerson, Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Artists For Humanity

Peter Brown, Chief of Staff to the President & CEO of Partners Healthcare, Former News Director at WBZ-TV 


Dave McLaughlin, Executive Director of Boston World Partnerships and award-winning filmmaker 

When: Wednesday – October 6, 2010 

Where: Artists for Humanity EpiCenter
100 W 2nd St.
Boston, MA 02127 

Time: Registration: 6:00pm -6:30pm
Speaking Program: 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Networking Reception: 7:30pm – 9:00pm 

Fee: $55 early bird & BWP Connectors
$75 General Admission 

To buy tickets, please visit:

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Hostelworld’s 10th Anniversary

Posted by thecastlegroup on June 16, 2010

Congratulations to longtime client on their 10th Anniversary. And in the true hostel spirit, they are celebrating around the world. This Friday, the party moves to New York.

We’ve been to their parties in Dublin. Here are photos from other celebrations around the world.

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Just the Stats

Posted by thecastlegroup on January 7, 2010

For digital and media consumption stat geeks, Nielsen released a boatload of them at CES.

Among the findings are:

  • TV homes with DVR and HD capabilities – big numbers already and sure to grow.
  • 115 million homes with a TV, 223 million mobile phone owners
  • 61 million mobile web users (wow, that seems high)
  • Blackberry Curve tops smartphone list
  • We’re each on Facebook six hours a month
  • Half of us own Dell computers (Lenovo in my household)
  • XBox users spend the most time on their systems (Wii and PS3 for us)
  • Only 49 million MP3 households

Read more here:

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Happy Holidays from The Castle Group

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 22, 2009

Be Peaceful

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Critical holiday questions

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 22, 2009

As we head into the holiday season, it’s clear there is still work to be done in the communications world, as you’ll see from the pressing questions below.

We’ll ask you, dear readers, to help answer Lila’s urgent questions. (And if you have a few to add, we’ll see if we can get those to the big guy as well.)

Yes, Lila, there is a Santa Claus, and it looks like he needs a PR department.

Letter from Lila to Santa, 12-21-09

Dear Santa—

Is it fun to live in the snow all the time?  Do you ever have time to play? What is you’re favrite thing to do when you’re working? How do you see evreyone at one time? Have you ever not gaven someone a present? How do you stay dry if it’s snowing when you are on you’re slay? How is Rodolph’s nose light enough in the dark? How tall are elfs? How many raindeer do you have? What time do you start dlifering presnts? Do you ever go on vacation? How long does it take to dlifer presents? How long are elfs ears? How can you bring a lot of peresents to houses? Do you have any pets? Do you celerbrate any other holidays? Do you have any kids? Who is your best friend? What dose Mrs. Clause do? How many people were nice this year and how many were naughty this year? Do you ever have to go to the bathroom when you are delivering presents and how do you go?



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Special Boston Business Journal offer today only

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 9, 2009

We like the BBJ. Annually they offer a one-day special offer to drive subscriptions for the coming year. Well, that’s today, so contact Sean Ryan if you’re interested. Contact information and details are below.

The Boston Business Journal is offering a one-time subscription discount.  Regular subscription price in 2010 for one year will be $119 but as a way to say “thank you” to the business community, they’ve lowered the rate to $79, a $40 savings. This includes 52 issues of the BBJ delivered to your home or office, full online access to the digital edition, all archived issues and the 2010 Book of Lists. The Book of Lists will retail for $70 this year alone.

To take advantage of this offer you must subscribe on Wednesday, December 8th. 

Call Sean Ryan at 617-316-3207 or send an e-mail to 

If you place an order online, the discount will not apply.

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Ad Club Auction 2009

Posted by thecastlegroup on September 11, 2009

Mark September 17 to October 15 on your calendars to participate in The Ad Club of Boston’s annual Media Auction. This year’s auction is open to the public and gives businesses of all sizes the opportunity to purchase media and related services at reasonable rates. Last year, the Media Auction helped The Ad Club award $100,000 in scholarships to deserving students from Boston public schools. Click here for more information. Happy bidding!

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