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 ‘Marketing’ Category

When big ideas are “Litl”

Posted by thecastlegroup on April 29, 2010

A post from Castle VP Hilary Allard, who heads our consumer practice and writes her own food blog

Growing a computer company in Boston’s Back Bay is a big idea. It’s even bigger when the company makes an internet computer, a device intended solely to work with the Web. 

Despite the scope of their innovation, the company is called Litl. And so is the webbook – it’s really cute. See it here.

I learned about them via a tweet promoting a meet-up for local food bloggers organized by, a great social networking site for home cooks.

BakeSpace has created a food channel for Litl. Featured recipes display on a “card” on the screen, quick to click through and find inspiration for dinner.

Full disclosure: the event organizers held a random drawing for a guest to receive a Litl, and I won, a happy surprise as I never win anything. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using it. It gives my family a convenient second online option, allowing my husband to surf the Web on the Litl without all the extra baggage and size of a traditional computer while I use my laptop to write.

As someone at the event pointed out, when you turn the Litl into “easel mode” (the picture flips around when the device is “folded” inside-out), the scroll roll in the base makes it easy to read through recipes when wearing an oven mitt. This configuration also keeps the keyboard away from kitchen hazards like flour.

(I also need to give kudos to Litl’s extraordinary packaging. The product is presented beautifully in what is really a gift box. Even the company’s business cards are made to look like the webbook. And they’re “little.” Nicely done.)

Everyone knows that nothing brings people together like food, and BakeSpace is proving it – they’ve been nominated for a Webby Award this year, competing against the likes of Twitter for “Best Social Network.”

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How to get and keep a job in PR (or in any profession)

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 17, 2010

Do good work.

Be honest and ethical.

Find a need in the organization and fill/solve it.

Make sure you enjoy what you’re doing.

Learn to work with all personality types.

Recognize that work, like life, is not always fair. Don’t brood over perceived inequities, just push forward.

Learn to do more than just your job.

Study and emulate the habits of those you respect, and also learn from those who may have been poor mentors. Both help shape what type of professional you will become.

Ask for more responsibility.

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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:

Posted in fun stuff and more, Marketing, Social Media (or the Digital Divide) | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Ad Age poll

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 17, 2009

Ad Age has a new poll asking if  companies will come out of a defensive stance in 2010, especially with regard to marketing investment?

We’re hoping the answer is yes — so far, it seems budgets and interest are increasing for 2010 marketing programs.

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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.

Posted in Castle News, fun stuff and more, Marketing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Social media impacts advertising

Posted by thecastlegroup on November 20, 2009

At yesterday’s WBZ Business Breakfast, Newbury Comics CEO Mike Dreese said his traditional ad spend dropped from $3.2 million to $250,000 due to social media. He now spends his money on human resources to power Newbury Comics’ social media machine.

The world is changing.


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Human media

Posted by thecastlegroup on November 19, 2009

When the economy is down and business interactions become increasingly more digital, it is imperative to “reach out” and re-humanize your relationships. The best way to do this? Although it may seem like a basic task, building your network of contacts, friends, supporters, clients and alumni is still one of the best ways to strengthen existing relationships and create new connections. 
The key to successfully doing this is simple: make sure to build your network authentically. This means creating a network of people who you genuinely enjoy connecting with. If you carry no hidden agendas, and are true to your personality, style and values, people will seek you out as an honest and genuine resource.
Now, take it a step further and connect those people to one another; it’s truly rewarding to be able to build a network for our business and clients, and at the same time help people who need to make their own connections, whether for employment, philanthropic or other reasons.
People will readily refer you and your business if they know, through the relationships you have built, that you are honest and ethical. And while we are certainly not discounting the power of the 140-character tweet, when someone you respect personally vouches for you, it’s amazing the influence they can have…and they’re free to not count words, and to only count characters in the truest sense of the word.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

PBLN Summit on a Sustainable Economy

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 7, 2009

The Progressive Business Leaders Network, a two-year-old bipartisan organization (Castle co-founder Sandy Lish is on the board) is hosting 200 top business leaders to a summit on how business and policy leaders together can “invent a more sustainable economy.”

The event is October 23 at the John F. Kennedy Library, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Register here to reserve a seat, and connect with business leaders and policymakers, learn about best practices and share ideas.

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Robin Chase on climate action now

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 6, 2009

Client Robin Chase, CEO of Meadow Networks and Founding CEO of Zipcar wrote the following post on climate action for the Huffington Post. Please read and share.

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Why everything your company does is marketing

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 5, 2009

This Saturday I visited a financial institution and a chain restaurant. Both seemingly simple transactions were fraught with frustration.

While a bank and a restaurant are different businesses, at the retail level, they are essentially the same. They offer customers products, services and the promise of consistency – you should have the same experience at any location, whether you’re in Boston or Chicago.  

As organizations grow, consistency becomes harder to achieve. That’s why training is so important and why, ultimately, execution at the retail level has the ability to make or break your brand promise.

Marketing platforms can be developed in any number of ways. You can identify your key strengths and play to them. You can listen to customer feedback and respond accordingly.

Or you can create an aspirational platform – what do we really want to be? How can we fulfill a customer need? The problem with this approach is that when what you want to be doesn’t align with who you are – and what you can really execute – it’s a false promise, one which is ultimately set up for failure.

In this day and age of transparency – and social media, where consumers can instantaneously weigh in on their experiences – it’s more important than ever to take a grounded look at your business from the bottom up before developing a marketing platform. And the need to continue that examination does not stop.  

Everything needs to work in alignment in order to fulfill the brand promise and deliver the right customer experience. Better to put the time into the effort and training up front – and delay the launch of an expensive ad campaign – rather than risk failure on something that isn’t supported at the store level.

What are your experiences with feeling the brand of the companies that you interact with?

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