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 ‘The Castle Group’

Sundae Driver

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 19, 2009

Do you know what kind of ice cream sundae you are? The Castle Group’s client Friendly’s wants to know.

Take our new Facebook quiz for Friendly’s to find out.


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Mom bloggers’ honest opinions carry heavy weight among consumers, companies

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 17, 2009

A powerful legion of mom bloggers have built up a strong following among both consumers and companies who value their unpaid, honest reviews of products and services.  

For a Castle Group client like “Ribert & Robert’s WonderWorld,” an animated educational program for children which airs on more than 100 stations across the country, few endorsements could carry more weight than a mom’s rave review. 

“I had the opportunity to view a couple of episodes of Ribert & Robert’s Wonderworld and am impressed at the educational value this show provides. It’s upbeat, fun, and will definitely keep the kids’ attention! I love the interactive aspects of it. I recommend this show to every parent or teacher looking to teach the love of learning to their children.”  

Bloggers are your consumers – they can effectively serve as a mini-focus group for your product or service.  Beyond providing products for review, in time you may consider engaging bloggers on another level – serving on an advisory panel or testing products during development.   

Engaging with bloggers is an important part of creating transparency and connection among consumers in today’s web-based world.

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Q.bel on Rachael Ray

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 12, 2009

Exciting to see our client, Q.bel, as “Snack of the Day” on “Rachael Ray” this morning.  The all-natural line of chocolate candy bars was recently launched nationally at Whole Foods.

3 Wafer Rolls WEB 6x8 72dpi

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Family Play Day on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 11, 2009

Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy Executive Director Nancy Brennan welcomes guests to the Mothers' Walk Wall dedication.

Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy Executive Director Nancy Brennan welcomes guests to the Mothers' Walk Wall dedication.

It was great to see 3,500 people – Bostonians and tourists alike – enjoying a (mostly) sunny free Family Play Day on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Kids had a blast dancing to music, trying on costumes from the Puppet Collaborative, making paper flowers for mom and enjoying giant bubble-making and other fun activities courtesy of the YMCA

Families enjoy the day.
The event kicked off with the cutting of a green ribbon on the Mothers’ Walk Wall. The beautiful wall is constructed from stones unearthed during the Big Dig – long ago they supported piers where the Greenway now stands.
The Mothers' Walk Wall

The Mothers' Walk Wall

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Mothers on Our Minds

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 5, 2009

With Mother’s Day approaching this Sunday, Castle is involved in a couple of great events that celebrate the spirit of mothers and children.


Our client, the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, is planning a free Family Play Day at the Wharf District Parks in downtown Boston this Saturday, May 9.  Families are encouraged to pack a picnic and enjoy a day of music, crafts and entertainment, a fun and frugal way to celebrate Mother’s Day. The event kicks off at 10:00 a.m. with the dedication of the Mothers’ Walk wall, featuring remarks by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. For more information, please visit


Also on Saturday, a team from Castle will be taking part in the March of Dimes March for Babies walk along Storrow Drive. The March of Dimes has made great strides in preventing premature births and addressing preemies’ medical complications, and we are proud to help them continue their important work.


Finally, Castle’s own co-founder Sandy Lish was included in a lighthearted take on what working mothers want for Mother’s Day. Her wish – for her husband to download and organize all the songs she wants on her iPod.

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Want to meet Dustin Pedroia?

Posted by thecastlegroup on April 10, 2009

It was a big first quarter at Castle celebrity-wise. We had an opportunity to spend time Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Money and arrange some terrific interviews for him and CEO Asheesh Advani.


And we had a chance locally to work with Salem Five on the launch of their new kid’s literacy and savings program, Gold Star Saver. The spokesperson for the kid’s financial literacy program is Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox (and reigning American League MVP).


To kick-off the Gold Star Saver program, Salem Five hosted a press conference at their Congress Street branch featuring Dustin. The twist? We arranged to have the press conference run by kids for kids. Jimmy Young of YSA, Young Sportscasters of America, worked with The Castle Group and Salem Five by giving two of his talented students a chance to host the press conference and interview Dustin. Check out the interview here. It was a great success and a lot of fun — for the adults and the kids.


Next week, on April 18, Dustin will be at the grand opening of Salem Five’s Reading, Mass. branch. To support it, there is a Salem Five Gold Star Saver video contest. In an effort to teach kids the importance of financial literacy and responsibility, Salem Five is asking kids throughout Massachusettsto share their best or most creative money saving tip. The winner will receive a $150 deposit into a Salem Five Gold Star Saver bank account and will have a chance to meet Dustin Pedroia at the newest branch in Reading on April 18th. Here’s a link to Salem Five’s YouTube channel with all the rules and eligibility requirements. It’s a great way to get kids thinking about why being accountable for their money is so important.

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Content convergence and the new world of PR

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 19, 2009


 Dan Crodella and his bowling ball

Dan Cordella and his bowling ball


I asked my friend and former Castle staffer Dan Cordella of to review and weigh in on concepts regarding the role of public relations in a digital world. As a former in-house and PR agency pro, and current role as an interactive copywriter (and the words behind the new Skittles campaign), Dan has as broad a perspective on marketing channels as anyone I know. His thoughts below serve as our first-ever guest post. Enjoy.




Castle’s ideas about the convergence of four media, or content, channels for marketing (owned media, earned media, purchased media, social media) is spot on.

What people need to realize most of all is that social media is a two-way street. Don’t force a message on your consumers that they don’t want to hear. Or if it is a message that they don’t want to hear and you still need to tell it, explain why you are telling them that message. They will be appreciative of you listening and addressing their concerns.

The ones who do this best are JetBlue (customer bill of rights), Michael Dell (computer fires) and Southwest(general niceness). JetBlue specifically has done a great job with Twitter. I subscribe to that keyword on my Twitter feed. For example, they sent a ton of updates to people on their way to the SXSW interactive festival wishing them a good trip – just awesome.

As someone who works with offline agencies all the time, I can’t stress enough the importance of collaboration from the start when integrating all content channels.

Owned media: Direct can be interactive. It doesn’t have to be a straight messaging banner or an ad. Digital provides people a unique opportunity to have an experience, not just receive a message. Best of all, the consumer can have that experience in the medium (or web page) they prefer. They don’t even have to click through in order to book a flight, play a game, etc.

Earned media: Bloggers and brand advocates should be mandatory in PR outreach. Giving an established advocate a chance to sample/test your product early will go a long way in terms of free media exposure.

Purchased media: This is a great opportunity for behavioral and contextual targeting to deliver a more relevant message than ever.

Social media: Not a flavor of the week, social media is here to stay in some form or another. Consolidation will happen, but brands must be flexible and ready to move to the medium that it needs most. Too many people get stuck in the mindset of “we NEED to be a part of XXX.” The brands that are most successful are the ones that aren’t afraid to play in a new playground. Companies just need to be willing to try.

While a brand could be hit with bad comments, the ones who get stuck with a negative perception are the ones that don’t have a conversation. Social media provides a unique place where negatives can be addressed and turned into positives. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars for a small room of people when social media gives you a virtually infinite free, easy and responsive focus group?

Search engine optimization needs to be in the mix as well, especially for smaller businesses. It’s a low-cost with high-result medium. 

Measurement is a needed tool for all channels, but the variables are very different on all of them. I never bought into the ad equivalency measurement so many PR companies do. I did a lot of measurement for my prior agency, and really thought the true benefit was breaking coverage down by type, audience, publication, message, etc. The clients loved it and that method helped us actually sell in strategy for the next year. Social media gives companies all sorts of new measurement, though interpretation is still subjective. Measurement tools like Nielsen BuzzMetrics and others are starting to do a good job of measuring social media.

It makes all the sense in the world to combine these content channels, or at least make sure they are delivering the same message. Of course, all efforts are null and void if you don’t create good content.


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Welcome to Peter Miller

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 12, 2009

It’s always nice to have a new team member at Castle. Usually, that happens when I hire someone new for our PR or events teams. This time it comes in the form of a new principal. We are all very excited here and look forward to a great relationship and lots of success with Peter Miller.

As a principal, Peter will work on business development and corporate strategy. Peter has a long history in the communications field. His most notable success was the founding of Massachusetts Communications College, which he developed and then successfully sold to a public company. Since then, Peter has run an investment firm. Peter is a long-time friend and shares Castle’s passion for great communications.

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Twitter FAQs

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 12, 2009

Read this short, helpful guide to Twitter by Jeremiah Owyang. He addresses how to get started, but even better, talks about Twitter “codes,” e.g. how/why to use hashtags, what is a DM, and when to RT (Retweet or, more simply, to forward someone else’s post).

Follow the Castle team on Twitter. Here’s a sample of some of our resident Tweet crowd:

And here are the TravMedia and Food4Media feeds:

I’ll update the list with more names and more recommendations. Keep watching, keep reading!

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The “Thing”

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 3, 2009

Creative ideas and innovative thinking are critical to our success. Every year, Castle rings in the New Year with a contest we like to call “The Thing.”  Everyone gets an art project to work with and can take it any direction they wish. This year, the material of choice was Wikki Stix: a fancy name for wax-covered string. While some creations fell short of greatness — such as Mark’s model of the DNA chain or Sarah’s plate of spaghetti — others, such as Linda’s multimedia movie trailer, took the contest to another level. Linda cast herself as director of a dark   thriller starring the very characters she created. Catch the preview here.   

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