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Kansas City B-cycle Gears up for Bike Share Roll Out

Posted in Community Leadership What has 90 bikes, 12 docking stations and is coming soon to downtown KC? Kansas City B-cycle! On July 3, volunteers will pedal the new bikes over the Heart of America bridge into downtown—launching bike share right in time for the All Star Game.   More than 200 cities around the world have bike share programs, including Paris, London, Denver, Miami and Chicago. Kansas City is launching bike share the same summer that New York City is also launching bike share. Kansas City B-cycle offers a healthy, environmentally-friendly way to navigate the city (and save money at the gas pump). Comprised of 90 bicycles and 12 downtown docking stations, the system allows users to check out a bike at a docking station (B-station) and return it to any B-station within the system. Pricing options include daily, weekly, monthly and annual passes. Stations are located at a variety of downtown locations including the River Market, Crossroads and Union Station. Smart phone users can download the Bcycle app for maps and bike availability in real-time. I have had the pleasure of working with the Kansas City B-cycle team since our client, Blue KC, is a major sponsor.  Blue KC supports bike share for the many health benefits of cycling. Biking burns 600 cal/hr at a moderate speed and 300 cal/hr per hour at a leisurely pace. As a downtowner and a cyclist, I can’t wait to use the system for short trips around the city and grocery store runs (the bikes come equipped with baskets!) I took the picture on the right at the newly installed B-station in my neighborhood in River Market. Can’t wait for the station to fill up with bikes after the launch on July 3! For more info on how you can support bike share in KC, connect with Kansas City B-cycle on Facebook or Twitter, or visit Tagged , , , ,
2 Comments Posted on by Archives

The Best Thank You Note

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights, Shanny's Posts

We are fortunate to be able to make donations to several different charitable organizations. Once a year Eric and I sit down and make a giving plan about which organizations we will support and how much our gift should be. Then I go through and make all of our contributions in one fell swoop. Within a week, I receive a stream of acknowledgments from the organizations. The contrast from one organization to the next is truly enlightening.

Not-so-good – Because of some volunteer work Eric did, a benefactor offered to make a special one-time contribution to a charitable organization on his behalf. This contribution was ten times more than the one we usually make. The organization simply sent us a standard, form letter acknowledgment. I can assure you that when make our giving plan next year we will leave not include this charity.

Better – Many organizations sent us a form letter with a personalized note on the bottom. Following are two great examples, one from CASA and the other from Jewish Family Services, that I particularly liked because I could tell that the author did not write the same thing on every note they signed.

Best – The best note was from Laura L. Rose Clawson with the Nature Conservancy. Her note was handwritten, however, I am including the entire text below so that I can point out some items that I think were particularly effective.

Mr. & Mrs. Morgenstern-

Fifteen yeas of support, membership and dedication to the Nature Conservancy is an inspiring commitment. Thank you for your contribution to support our work here in Kansas, and thank you for what I can only guess is a staunch belief in our mission to protect nature for all species. Please know that you can call on me as a local contact any time you would like to learn more about our work. Have you ever been to a Kansas or Missouri Conservancy preserve?

With sincere thanks again-

Laura L. Rose Clawson

  1. The note is very specific about we did. To say fifteen years instead of just saying continuing support reiterates that Ms. Clawson wrote this note just for us.
  2. She reenforced the Conservancy’s mission in a natural and impactful way.
  3. I have never met Ms. Clawson, but I believe that her offer to help us learn more about the Conservancy’s work is honest, and even if I don’t contact her, I appreciate the personal connection.
  4. I have not been to a preserve, but I suspect that if I ever went, they could count on increased support for years to come. What a great way to show a donor how their gift is making a difference.
  5. Overall I am struck by how authentic and caring the note is. It won’t work if your recipients think that you are trying to pull one over on them.

If you would like additional information about the impact of a handwritten note see Eric’s blog post.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded by messages, the most effective communications are often those that are simple and said quietly, from the heart.

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2 Comments Posted on by Shanny Morgenstern

Constant Course Corrections

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights

Remember when you were first learning to drive? Your mentor probably told you to place your hands at 10 and 2, and hold the steering wheel steady. But if you hold it completely still, eventually, you’ll veer off the road.

Ahh, this is so true in life.

How many times do we say to ourselves, “Everything is all right; it’s all good. Now, if we can just keep things ‘as is,’ we’ll be fine.”

But things never stay exactly as is. It takes constant course corrections to keep moving forward in an intentional manner. And we’re never too old to keep learning.

For more than 20 years, we’ve attended Spring Conference for PRSA Counselors Academy, the annual professional development event that has taught us more than any other single resource. We learn and share our best secrets with our peers from around the country. And each year, we hear that small, continuous changes are the key to keeping moving forward. Part of that change includes how we look at our business.

For example, all months aren’t created equal. In 2012, February (even with the leap day) has only 21 workdays, while August has 23. That’s a 10 percent difference, but at Morningstar Communications, we’ve never accounted for this before. Duh. This is what I call a B.F.O. (Blinding Flash of the Obvious). It’s time for us to make a course correction on our expectations, now factoring in how many workdays there are in each month. This is just one pearl we learned at Spring Conference this year.

I’ve led agencies for decades (wow, that makes me sound old – but if you call me a FOSSIL, I’ll take that as a compliment because fossils are Fabulous, Often-Sought, Still Inspiring Leaders!) and I’m always learning new things.

But some things don’t change, including our foundation employee philosophy:

Hire excellent people. Empower them. Be there when they need help. Otherwise, stay out of their way and sing their praises.

That’s been our approach at Morningstar Communications, and that core philosophy doesn’t change. But how we apply our philosophies is constantly evolving.

Singers know they need to push increasingly more air to maintain the same sound. Athletes know as the competition wears on, it takes more effort to get the same results. And all business leaders understand that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Small changes lead to big results. As Dori from “Finding Nemo” told herself frequently, “Just keep swimming.” I’d add –  we all need to look up from time-to-time to recalibrate our position – and make the appropriate small corrections that keep us on the pathway for success.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers

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1 Comment Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

Yeasayers and Naysayers

Posted in Social Media When working with clients to establish or grow their social media presence, the question of how to handle negative comments usually comes up. Let’s face it – no company wants to jeopardize the integrity of its brand. Social media is a shared platform, and as such not all content can be controlled. So what should you do when a negative comment or review surfaces? (And it inevitably will). For the most part, do not delete it. No matter how damaging a comment may seem, deleting it is a mistake. Instead, use it as an opportunity to establish credibility with your audiences as a transparent organization, learn from your mistakes and improve business operations. I recently read a great article in the Nashville Business Journal that shares why you shouldn’t delete negative reviews and tips for successfully maintaining a positive social media reputation. As with most best practice guidelines, there are exceptions to the rule. Comments that pose a threat or include vulgarity can be deleted on a case-by-case basis. The key is to be prepared, engaged and proactive. While every organization values its most loyal brand advocates, they provide very little insight on areas that need improvement. Social media presents a truly unique opportunity to better your business through unvarnished feedback. As with most things in life and business, what happens isn’t nearly as important as how you react.

Photo courtesy of

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Tune In To My Hashtag Page

Posted in Online Marketing, Social Media, Tips and Tricks With the buzz building over Twitter’s new commercial, which aired during Sunday’s NASCAR race, the little blue bird has been on my mind.

Photo courtesy of

One of the challenges I often face as a Millennial is explaining Twitter to people who didn’t grow up learning about the world through the portals of Facebook and other social mediums. What I’ve found to be helpful when trying to break through Twitter-wariness is to explain that Twitter is doing what radio has done for decades with a modern twist, and to an audience that’s growing exponentially (Pew Research Center, 2012). To begin, Twitter emulates radio with its format. A steady stream of news and trends, it’s impossible to hear/see everything. If you look away for a moment, you’ve missed part of the conversation, just like radio. The comparisons don’t stop there. The interaction listeners have with radio hosts is similar to the relationship between Twitter-users and their followers. With radio, you tune in during your commute and call to win tickets or weigh in on the topic of conversation. You feel connected to the DJ as they share anecdotes from their life as part of their radio “personality.” Twitter does all this for Millennials. When we tweet at someone, it’s the Millennial version of calling in to the station to talk to the host. When we retweet that Ellen DeGeneres cut her hair, it’s our way of sharing the funny story from the morning commute at the water cooler.

Photo courtesy of

What Twitter offers that radio doesn’t is a chance for the audience to respond en masse. Now that Twitter has the hashtag-page, brands can hear exactly what’s on the minds of their publics, as they think it, and respond in real time in one central location. It’s an opportunity for brands to make themselves the radio personality that Millennials tune into every morning. Tagged , , , ,
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Bloomberg Buzz

Posted in Media Relations In an effort to encourage healthy behaviors on the streets of New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a proposal to improve the city’s health code by preventing its vendors from selling soft drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces. Since Bloomberg’s announcement on May 30, America and the PR world has been buzzing on this controversial health issue. Through various media outlets, many individuals have shared positive opinions on the debate applauding Bloomberg for making positive steps toward a healthier society. In contrast, and not surprisingly, both Coca-Cola and McDonalds responded against the mayor’s proposal:
  • “Public health issues cannot be effectively addressed through a narrowly focused and misguided ban,” said McDonald’s in a statement.
  • “New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase. We hope New Yorkers loudly voice their disapproval about this arbitrary mandate,” said Coca-Cola in a statement.
No matter where you stand on this issue, there’s no doubt the proposal has driven countless conversations on not only the ban itself, but the topic of obesity and poor health in the United States as well. In that sense, it’s already a successful effort.
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Fascinators and Speedos

Posted in Integrated Marketing (IMC), Tricia's Posts

It’s a great time for England. From Will and Kate’s one year anniversary to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to the 2012 Summer Olympics, England has a lock on positive marketing this year.

England’s marketing blitz started in 2011 with the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April, where all eyes were glued to the dress, the kiss and of course the fascinators, or hats as we Americans might call them.

Photo courtesy of

Today, our friends across the pond, and my favorite national morning hosts – the good folks at Good Morning America, are celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years on the throne. That’s quite a feat and has been celebrated with pomp and circumstance not only abroad, but here in the States with several Katie Couric specials and coverage on national news outlets.

Photo courtesy of

Next month, England will host the 2012 Summer Olympics bringing top athletes and visitors from around the world to experience all the country has to offer. And for those not attending in person, modern technology will bring them the highs and lows of the games, and surely the sights and sounds of London.

The world’s fascination with the monarchy and continued support of the Olympic games led to a great year of branding for England. We’ll all watch next month as the country takes on its next opportunity to brand itself to the world.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim