Two-Way Street

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

Posts Tagged ‘Boston Globe’

We still need The Boston Globe

Posted by thecastlegroup on June 16, 2009

I have a Blackberry, get countless e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds, Twitter posts, information aggregated in Google Reader and My Yahoo — needless to say, there are plenty of places where I can get my news. And one of the last places I turn for breaking news is The Boston Globe.

However, I remain a near 30-year subscriber for home delivery. Prior to that, I was the home delivery, spending 7th and 8th grade trudging up and down hilly streets in Somerville to deliver The Globe (and Herald and New York Times).

The prospect of not having a Globe, or any region losing its daily newspaper, saddens me. They’ve apparently worked out some of their problems for now, but it’s not like subscribership is going to spike anytime soon, or ever again.

Is it the tactile sensation of opening a newspaper and flipping pages? Getting newsprint on your fingertips? Simple muscle memory? I do think it’s some of that, coupled with my generation (mid-40s).

But the web doesn’t do it for me as a replacement for a newspaper. You can find exactly what you want online — search for it, tag it, rate it, save it, share it. Those are great virtues, but what are non-newspaper readers missing?

First of all, it’s reading the articles you are not looking for that make a paper worthwhile — the little surprises you may find in a lifestyle column, or the big revelations you may discover while reading a detailed current events analysis. And there’s the pictures, and flow, and ads and everything else you don’t get from a website.

It’s no surprise that the most popular “news” sites are Huffington Post or TMZ. There’s a drop in “weightiness” on the web. There are still great stories, but you won’t find them if you’re not looking for them.

A newspaper gives you luxuries. You can skim when you’re busy, immerse when you have, discover new writers and opinions.

And don’t forget the watchdog element. The Globe’s Spotlight team has brought to light critical issues that people need to hear about. If The Globe fails, so does this effort.

News  media is changing all around us. TV news struggles to hit big numbers during sweeps, and builds hardly usable online sites to serve as companions to “extend” the news. In most cases, these sites fail.

Adaptation is the path the Globe, NECN, WBZ and more follow in an attempt to keep rapidly diminishing ad dollars and readers/viewers.

The true path is innovation, and there’s far too little of that in traditional media.

I look forward to a future where I can recline in an easy chair in my senior years and open the Globe, read it and still enjoy it. I know I need it. And I think our community needs it — for instilling regional pride, showing geographic identification, tackling tough societal issues and giving a home to good stories written well.  

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Posted by thecastlegroup on May 13, 2009

We are a communications firm, so we love the media. But let’s face it, online, offline, in print or on the airwaves, we are bombarded with dire reports: “Swine flu is creating a panic! We’re in a recession!” If this wasn’t enough, we keep hearing about the endangered local media, most notably, the imminent demise of The Boston Globe and how that is going to forever change the way we run our business and service our clients. Since we’re in the business of making sure messages are accurately conveyed, this month, we’re using this space to do some “fact-checking” of our own.
Myth #1: If The Globe shuts down, Boston PR firms are in trouble.
If The Boston Globe were to shut down–which thankfully seems less likely today–it will indeed be a sad day for the entire region. We grew up reading it, we love opening it each morning, it is an important institution and we have great friends at The Globe. As citizens and communications professionals, we want Boston to be a vibrant, two-paper city.
We hope and trust that The Globe will emerge from this difficult time refocused and refinanced, but regional media relations and press coverage is just one element of the work we do for our clients: social media, vertical marketing, brand management, enrollment marketing, national and international public relations, relationship marketing and event marketing are equally, if not more, important to what we do every day at Castle; our success stems from a deep understanding of trends and cycles, as well as our ability to anticipate change and maximize opportunities for our clients in emerging communications channels.
Myth #2: Business people are not traveling.
Contrary to the common misconception, we are finding that corporations are not significantly cutting back on their corporate event agendas: they are responding positively to President Obama’s very public call for continued support of corporate events and business travel. What we do see, and what we support, is a trend away from extravagance and toward greater attention on corporate events as efficient vehicles for brand enhancement, strategic messaging and for incenting sales channels. This has always been our focus at Castle, and what has differentiated our approach from the beginning.
When we say that we are not “party planners,” but rather a marketing and messaging company, we mean that our objective is designing and delivering multi-tiered corporate events, which effectively and efficiently position the brand and support strategic marketing objectives. In the past few months we have managed events in Boston, as well as in Italy, Costa Rica, Napa, Portugal and yes, Mexico (without incident). With clear messaging, specific goals and responsible budgeting, there is still no better way to directly reach your audience. Incentive travel programs, done properly, help companies achieve ROI and are measurable, quantifiable motivators for success.    

We hope that the worst has passed, but if it hasn’t, if recessionary factors linger longer, we remain committed to working hard everyday to bring tangible, measurable value to our clients.

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Products, packaging and PR – critical marketing steps for package design

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 25, 2009

Today’s Boston Globe looks at recent product packaging redesigns as a way to maintain competitive advantage on the grocery store shelf. In these times, manufacturers are fighting for each sale and need to do what they can to get consumers to notice and purchase their products.


In the packaging design process, manufacturers also need to consider gearing the right products toward the right consumers.


Look at the spaghetti sauce aisle at your local supermarket. Between the jarred spaghetti sauce, individual ingredients to make spaghetti sauce and the pasta itself, there is an entire aisle devoted to this one dish.


With so many products crowding the shelf, it all becomes a blur to the consumer, who is then forced to shop on price or specials. The wide variety of flavors and styles, along with low-fat, sugar-free, lower sodium and other options, necessitates consumers becoming students of labels in order to make the right purchase. Grab and go is a thing of the past.


By creating more well-defined “looks” for each product extension, then backing up the packaging with targeted marketing efforts that support specific lines, manufacturers can drive sales in each channel and create greater consumer satisfaction by directing them to products that best suit their needs.


For example, a “no sugar added” pasta sauce line could be marketed to diabetics through targeted advertising in diabetic publications, sampling at diabetes health expos, blogger outreach, media relations and co-marketing with other diabetes-related products — and sit in the pasta aisle with increased awareness alongside mainstream competitive products.


Exposing the target audience to products at a variety of touch points will help quickly guide them to the right product on the shelf.


This is where PR, branding and strategy all align, and why marketing conversations need to happen in lockstep with product design.

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