Tag Archives: Marketing

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Marketing to Guests – Panama Style

Posted in Laura's Posts, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized

 Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of traveling abroad to Panama City, Panama. Aside from enjoying the sunny, 85-degree weather everyday, I was also fortunate enough to be able to soak in some of the local culture and gain an understanding of their customs. As a public relations and marketing professional, I was on the lookout for ways Panamanians market to foreign visitors. Here are a couple of my key takeaways:

1.) Provide an authentic experience – Panamanians offer their visitors a unique and genuine experience, from dining to dancing, which encourages guests to return time and time again. They pay special attention to their guests and ensure they’re immersed in the culture. For example, during my visit to Emberá Village, located just outside of Panama City, I truly felt like I was part of their family. It is one thing to simply serve your guests food and perform a traditional dance, but it is another to actually invite your guests to dance with you, see how the food is prepared and play with the local kids.

Panama 2
Photo of me at the Emberá Village.

2.) Display strengths – Panama has many unique strengths, and they know how to play them well! Known for its architecturally stunning buildings, breathtaking rainforests and the infamous Panama Canal, Panamanians know how to display their country as the beautiful and unique place it is. My trip through the Panama Canal was not only an experience of a lifetime, especially since this year marks the Canal’s centennial anniversary, it was also an experience in which I had the opportunity to see firsthand how Panamanians proudly showcase and support their country’s strengths. 

Panama 3
Photo of one of the Panama Canal locks.

My takeaways from Panama relate to how we do business at Morningstar Communications. We believe in giving each of our clients to an authentic experience and treating them as part of our Morningstar Communications family. We also believe that in order to best serve our clients and colleagues, we must know and play into our strengths, both individually and as a company. 

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Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

You Are Your Brand, Your Company’s Brand and Your Client’s Brand

Posted in Best Practices, Susan's Posts, Tips and Tricks


You are a brand, and at all times, you are an extension of your brand. Not only are you a brand for yourself, but you also represent the brand reputation of your company and your clients. That’s a lot to take in, but as a professional in the always evolving and incredibly active world of PR, communications, marketing and advertising – we know this fact to be true. What you do, say, post, wear, etc., speaks for more than just you.

Heavy stuff, isn’t it? But, if we already know this, why blog on the topic? Because time-after-time I witness painful personal fails as people get a little too comfortable or have a little too much fun, seemingly not aware that they still represent their team, their company and their clients after 5:00 p.m.

We’re fortunate to work amongst exciting, innovative industries – industries that allow us to step away from our desks to attend networking events, client happy hours and trade shows and events in great locations. We work in a fun industry, so by no means should you eliminate fun from this job – it’s one of the best parts.  In fact, our clients often like working with us because we’re an enjoyable group.

It’s important to simply balance having fun and enjoying yourself with the knowledge that you’re representing your company and clients at all times. Remember: you are always on, and people associate multiple brand reputations with you as a person whether you’re at your desk or not.

So, what can we do to ensure we’re on top of our game as professionals while still enjoying the perks of the industry?

Act with tact: Just as your mother told you: be tactful, considerate, perceptive, polite and responsible. Easy enough, right? Keep in mind that your actions and your words both speak loudly. Keep simple courtesies in mind when networking, when engaging on social media sites and especially when sharing opinions or advice. Keep it clean and don’t be sloppy. Ensure your behavior matches the image your company and clients want portray.

Don’t get too comfortable: Whether you’re with colleagues, clients or other contacts, it’s typically a good move to leave the dire personal stories and experiences to yourself. In short, be friendly, but don’t be too friendly. It’s wonderful to love your clients and associates, but lines can be crossed. Don’t let what you intend to be a private joke or silly, personal story turn into a nightmare after the fact. Word gets around, and you want to come off as professional, even after hours. Don’t permit your actions one night to jeopardize the respect you’ve earned over time. Although you feel comfortable in good company, be careful not to release private information that was intended to be strictly between you and a client. Don’t give your associates and clients a reason to think you’re anything less than fabulous all around. A drink or two might be a great bonding experience, and silly stories can be fun for all – but just keep them clean and appropriate.

Prep as much as possible: It’s fair to say that in this industry, things come up. On any given day you might rush out of the office to assist a client with an interview or meet up with a journalist at an after hours event. So be prepared. Before you leave, take time to think about why you are going, and keep those goals in mind. Pack your business cards, brush up on recent articles, trends and general news that pertain to the industry and your client. Being perceptive and tactful comes in here once again – but so does being fun. You want people to want to work with you. So, before you run out the door in a hurry, take two minutes to think about with whom you’re going to spend time. Maybe you’ll find a funny meme on their Twitter account you can bond over. Who knows? Little things like this make you memorable and enjoyable. You’re more likely to get somewhere with a journalist or a business partner who knows you’re not only intelligent and poised, but also generally informed and fun to be around.

Attitude is everything:  For the most part, we’re a bunch of Type A people in this industry. Type A to a T. Don’t be a wallflower when there is fun and networking opportunities to be had. Ask questions; compliment someone on their fun shoe selection, whatever it takes to strike up a conversation. Smile, talk about your company, your agency, your client, the news, the latest autotuned news piece – establish relationships, that’s the kicker. You might be at a party, but you’re there for your company or client. Word will get around that you’re the person always sitting in the corner or that you’re the person everyone wants to talk to.

Know your limits: In this industry, you may find yourself at a good party from time to time. Alcohol is typically present, and often free flowing. At these events, you are often, “Mrs. Smith representing (insert fabulous client name here).” Mind your P’s and Q’s and know your limits. Don’t be the person your client mentions Monday morning while discussing people who went too far at the party, and certainly don’t be the person your associates have to carry out.

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1 Comment Posted on by Susan Hinds

Why 2013 is Going to be a Great Year

Posted in Online Marketing, Social Media The holiday vacation is over and 2013 is in full swing. The New Year always brings with it a certain feeling of renewed vigor and optimism. This year is no exception and it’s easy to see why. Here are a few good reasons for marketing and communications professionals to be enthusiastic about the year ahead:
  • In 2012, 91 percent of social media marketers saw improved website traffic as a result of social media campaigns (79 percent generated more quality leads)
  • Thirty-four percent of marketers have successfully generated leads via Twitter
  • According to Nielsen, social media and blogs reach 80 percent of today’s 245 million active Internet users
  • Recently, StrongMail conducted a survey with more than one thousand marketers and found 89 percent plan to maintain or increase marketing spending in 2013
  • The same StrongMail survey found 56 percent of marketers plan to increase email marketing budgets, 52 percent will invest more in social media and 43 percent plan to spend more on mobile marketing
  • Reputation management is predicted to become a top priority for companies as social media continues to prevail
It will be interesting to see how the industry continues to evolve and grow in 2013. What do you predict will be the biggest marketing and communication trend this year? Tagged , , , ,
Comments Off Posted on by Archives

One Good Thing About Music…

Posted in Creativity and Design, Hannah's Posts

As I watched “The Voice” on Monday night, I couldn’t help but notice coach after coach offer the same pieces of advice to team members. If contestants wanted to win and advance, they needed to truly connect with the audience. It has been a running theme throughout the show.

“It’s not about giving you guys a task or just singing some random song,” said CeeLo Green, award-winning artist and coach. “I would love for it to connect to you in a personal way to where you can truly sing it with that conviction.”

How do you connect with an audience? Tell a story and try to get listeners to relate. Even if they can’t relate, work to get the audience to empathize and believe what you’re telling them.

Funny how marketing communications works in the same way as music; storytelling is essential. Now I am going to intertwine the two even more, by demonstrating how music is effectively used in TV advertisements, therefore telling fascinating stories and getting key messages across.

Admit it – this commercial wouldn’t be as riveting if it weren’t for this indie song coming out of the woodwork. Yes, the power of the World Wide Web is moving, but Alex Clare’s “Too Close” is what captivated people’s attention. Internet Explorer is seen as a somewhat outdated browser as it competes with newer browsers like Safari and Firefox. By using Clare’s soulful song that includes an electronic dubstep twist, Internet Explorer becomes fresh and trendy.

It’s a good thing Microsoft reached out to Clare, as the song has become increasingly popular after Clare had been dropped from his record label. This ad campaign definitely turned out to be a win-win for all involved parties.

When I saw this commercial for the first time, I had happy chills going down my spine. I still get excited when this ad comes on TV, even seven months later.


I can always turn to these hamsters if I need a good laugh. Despite Kia’s great sense of humor, the song choice is phenomenal. Electronic dance music is on the rise, and consistently appearing on Top 40 music charts. I could picture myself on the dance floor in “La La Land” from this song – “In My Mind” by Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl feat. Georgi Kay (Axwell remix). From Blake Griffin to the hamsters, Kia has been doing excellent advertising over the past couple of years.

No exaggeration here – Tears welled up in my eyes when I saw this Super Bowl commercial, as it impacted me in such a profound way. I have no connection to Detroit, but I am proud to be an American, and I do love a good a cappella choir. Eminem, originally from Detroit, affected the tone of the advertisement with his rugged “Lose Yourself” beat. Both music choices are strong and empowering.

Thank you, Microsoft, Kia and Chrysler, for taking me somewhere with your ads, from goose bumps rising on my arms, to a goofy grin plastered on my face as my eyes are glued to the TV screen.

“I get asked all the time, ‘What makes a really good song?’ And the only answer is, ‘If it takes you somewhere.’” –Rob Thomas, Matchbox Twenty front man, “The Voice”

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

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 bridefinds.com

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 USAtoday.com

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

New Brand for KCCVA

Posted in Community Leadership, Creativity and Design

It’s a very exciting time for Kansas City. This year Kansas City will open its first aquarium, SEA LIFE Kansas City, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is being built at Crown Center and the MLB All-Star Game in July is just around the corner. Numerous national media outlets have taken notice of this, declaring Kansas City as a global travel destination. Top recognitions include:

  • Ranked “America’s #1 Affordable Getaway” by Travel + Leisure
  • Only American city to make the top 10 list of “Top Destinations for 2012” by travel giant Arthur Frommer’s
  • Proclaimed as “America’s next great culinary destination for 2012” by top food magazine Saveur
  • Named one of “America’s Best Downtowns” by Forbes

KCCVA logo designed by Willoughby Design


There are many groups in charge of marketing Kansas City. We are proud to work with several of them, including The Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC), Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, The Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association (KCCVA), amongst others. As one group representing the brand image of Kansas City, KCCVA wanted to capitalize on this great media attention and highlight the revitalization of Kansas City by enhancing its brand image and revamping its mission statement. KCCVA did just that last week when it revealed a new tourism brand and logo at its 2012 Annual Meeting. The new brand includes a new logo, identity and mission “to ignite global passion for visiting Kansas City.”

KCCVA’s new brand is not simply a logo, but rather an overall message to promote and elevate Kansas City’s status as a prime spot for conventions, meetings, tour groups, business travel and leisure travel. Tourism is vitally important to Kansas City, contributing jobs, tax dollars and a better quality of life for all of us who call this city home. In 2010, tourism generated $135 million in state taxes and $179 million in local taxes. Tourism also sustains more than 45,000 jobs throughout the Greater Kansas City area.

We as Kansas Citians need to work together to promote the brand of KC and share all of the wonderful things this city has to offer not only nationally, but also globally in 2012.

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Comments Off Posted on by Meg Schulte

Rebranding: When is it time for a makeover?

Posted in Best Practices, Creativity and Design, Integrated Marketing (IMC)

On Wednesday, Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B InBev) unveiled a new Budweiser can that makes the beer’s bowtie logo a more prominent focal point. The new design also emphasizes the Budweiser creed, which highlights the beer’s Beechwood aging process and “135-year long commitment to quality.”

As a former Anheuser-Busch (A-B) employee and loyal consumer for many years, I find this rebranding particularly interesting. In the past I promoted Budweiser, and in the present, I am working on a corporate rebranding launch. By helping a corporation rebrand itself, our primary initiative is to strategically position the brand in a different light to successfully draw new business while maintaining current loyalty.

Showing the King of Beers' new look, right, compared with the old, left.

Photo Courtesy of St. Louis Business Journal

Rebranding strategies and initiatives are appropriate and needed when, in A-B InBev’s case, the purpose of rebranding is to reflect what the company is already doing in a more compelling, persuasive manner. The new can is Budweiser’s 12th since A-B began offering its flagship brand in cans in 1936.  That’s only 12 varieties in 75 years, so it is clear the brewery does not take rebranding lightly.

According to the St. Louis Business Journal, A-B InBev says it expects the can makeover to be part of a larger marketing push to increase Budweiser sales. Yes, Budweiser is getting a new logo, but it is not a change in corporate identity. Budweiser is still the “King of Beers,” but even the King has to re-examine its position in the market and defend its throne from time to time.

Morningstar Communications has done several rebranding projects over the years, helping clients strategize their message and strongly position themselves as an expert in their industry. If you’re wondering whether it’s time for a company makeover, here are a few reasons for rebranding:

  • Increase consumer loyalty
  • Enter a new market trend
  • Redefine corporate image
  • Create a stronger industry voice
  • Increase shareholder value
  • Reenergize a company
  • Create “buzz” in the marketplace
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Comments Off Posted on by Meg Schulte

Slogging over Blogging

Posted in Sheri's Posts, Social Media

We work to regularly post content on our Morningstar Communications blog. Sometimes, the posts that get widely read or generate conversations surprise us. Of everyone here, I confess I am the most reticent to blog. Uncovering topics of interest to me, and which I also think will interest others, seems to take an inordinate amount of time. And I have doubts about how many blogs really get read, given the time-starved world we all live in today.

So I decided to check into what’s going on in the blogosphere. Who’s blogging, what are they talking about and who is tuning in? My first source was Technorati, which has some great stats from its 2010 survey on who is blogging and why they do it. For example, the study showed more and more folks are using mobile devices to blog, and as a result are creating shorter and more frequent posts. And the women/mom blogger segment definitely influences brand perceptions. Another clear trend is the convergence of blogging and other forms of social media, especially Twitter.

Technorati breaks down the blogger population into four distinct segments: Hobbyists, who blog for fun and measure success based on their own personal satisfaction; Part-Timers, who spend a significant amount of time blogging and of which 63% measure success by unique visits; Corporates, a small contingency of survey respondents who say they blog full-time for a company or organization; and Self-Employeds, those blogging full-time or occasionally for their own company or organization. This group is the most likely to blog about business, and 57% reported owning their own company or having a blog related to their business.

Interestingly, more than half of the bloggers planned to blog more frequently in the future. And among all groups except Hobbyists, the most common themes were technology and business. All respondents agreed blogging had the biggest impact on politics and technology.

Yet, I found little in the study about the people reading blogs, how many they check regularly, how long they spend on each blog, or what action they may take as a result of reading a story or building a relationship built with a blogger. In fact, a quick Google search turned up a host of outdated articles, and a post by another woman like me, who has a hard time getting started on her posts. I already like Seattle Wine Gal based on that post and her content focus. She can count me as one of her readers.

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1 Comment Posted on by Sheri Johnson

Top 10 Royal Wedding Marketing Promotions (I mean souvenirs)

Posted in Best Practices, Online Marketing

From across the pond, Britain’s marketing bonanza invaded. Under the guise of commemorative items, you too can enjoy a piece of Royal wedding history. Here is a list of my favorites:

1.              Royal couple refrigerator wrap – caters to a specific group

2.              Coffee mug with the happy couple. Oops, wrong groom

3.              Royal Wedding Bookmark Business Card Template – hmmmm

4.              Royal romance CD – can’t get more romantic than that

5.              Kate’s engagement ring reproductions – affordable for all without the sentimental value

6.              Royal Wedding Prince William and Kate Middleton Round Tray – currently sold out, sorry

7.              Kate’s wedding dress knockoff

8.              The coveted tea towel – another item backordered

9.              Princess Kate bride doll – not quite available yet

10.           Royal coasters – a must have in a variety of colors and prints

Whether you are obsessed with the royal couple or amused by the whole thing, the British economy is having a king-sized boost.

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Comments Off Posted on by Andy Woodward

Expenditure Overload

Posted in Online Marketing

I love a bargain as much as the next guy, but lately I feel there’s so many to choose from I’m in coupon overload! With so many options out there, do you find yourself buying up every daily deal that comes your way? If so, you’re not alone. Thousands of bargain hunters are flocking to Groupon, LivingSocial, and numerous other group coupon-buying websites and grabbing deals on everything from restaurants to spas to skydiving. According to the Boston Globe, daily deal sales are so popular they’re projected to pull in $5 billion in sales this year.

According to Time, these daily deal sites have managed to bring excitement of the classic “limited-time only” marketing scheme to a whole new level. These deals make people feel as if they’re on the inside – that they’re special, smart and savvy. With the time constraints involved, there’s the risk of losing out if you don’t act quickly. And who wants to miss out on the chance to feel special, smart, and savvy?

With dozens of new deals each day, consumers are buying coupons so fast that they don’t have time to use 20 percent of the coupons before they expire. The Globe refers to this as “Groupon Remorse.” Groupon Remorse is becoming so common that it has given rise to a related industry: a resale market for coupons customers once bought because they seemed like amazing deals, but that they won’t use and are willing to sell at a loss. Example websites include DealsGoRound, Lifeseta and CoupRecoup.

As new sites pop up for over eager consumers to re-sell unused coupons, will you try it out or is this just another form of expenditure overload?

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Comments Off Posted on by Meg Schulte
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