Saturday, October 27, 2007

Further Proof of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing's Value

A new study reported by the American Marketing Association this week...

Friday, October 26, 2007

A How-To For Theming Meetings

Meeting planners might want to look to the entertainment industry when they are looking for a cutting edge theme to their next conference, as evidenced by this brief in the September issue of Fast Company Magazine.

Road Games
RoadShow HollywoodSeptember 18-20Hollywood, California
"The entertainment industry is one way to predict what the trends are going to be," says Mitch Litvak, RoadShow founder. At this conference, entertainment execs premiere the next 6 to 18 months' worth of movies, TV, music, and gaming products so brand marketers can hunt for opportunities to develop Happy Meals and other tie-ins. Last year, New Line Cinema pitched its movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Hairspray. It ultimately led to Carnival Cruise Lines creating "the Hairspray experience." "We have karaoke nights, and dance instructors teach moves from the film," says Lance Still, an executive VP at New Line. Nickelodeon, Universal Music, and Warner Bros. are among this year's presenters. "We'll be highlighting Speed Racer, Steve Carell's Get Smart remake, and Where the Wild Things Are," says Warner senior VP of domestic promotions Mimi Slavin. --Aimee Rawlins

Monday, October 22, 2007

No "Reining IN" Kentucky's Tourism Slogan

The Kentucky Department of Tourism says that for the third year in a row, the "Kentucky Unbridled Spirit" brand prompted recognition from people within a ten state region.

That and more news as the Commonwealth announced a change in their department name.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Way Paved For More Parking at Creation Museum

The popularity of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum ( has put a strain on parking. See story in today's Cincinnati Enquirer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Procter and Gamble Letting Go While Starbucks Getting a Grip

Northern Kentucky was fortunate enough to serve as host this week of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC: Heritage Region Conference hosting 200 professionals and students from as far away as New York, Virginia, Illinois and Michigan. IABC provides a professional network of more than 14,000 business communication professionals in over 70 countries, with members holding positions in such broad ranging disciplines as public relations, government relations, video production, training, education and human resources.

Two of the more engaging speakers at the conference were Procter & Gamble ( Global External Relations Officer Charlotte Otto and James Greathouse, Director of Internal Communications for Starbucks. While both groups are known for innovation, Otto advised that the venerable corporate giant has been cautious in being transparent to consumers. For P&G, that opaqueness comes in the form of revealing details about product ingredients, something unthinkable even a few years ago.

Consumer brands face a hostile and skeptical market today, she added (citing Dan Yankelovich's book Profit With Honor in which the author details America's third wave of public distrust--following the Depression and Vietnam--coming in the form of 911, corporate scandals and the Iraq War ( Otto says P&G's goal is to be authentic and interesting but safe to advertisers. "We have to respect consumers as co-creators acknowledging their control over the message."

If the coffee doesn't give Starbucks ( executives the jitters, the problems created by the organization's growth might. Greathouse says seven new Starbucks a day are opening creating hundreds of new jobs for partners and baristas but also keeping busy about 1,200 employees in real estate, store design and construction as well as 150 HR people and regional Vice Presidents, Directors and District Managers. Imagine the potential for communication chaos with these swelling numbers. And Greathouse says the cost is potentially enormous. He reported that a single poorly written headline on an intranet home page amounts to $1,000 in wasted employee time (think about pondering a headline, clicking through it even though it's useless, taking time to decide whether it's useless, you get the picture). How to deal with this? Greathouse has pulled together a multi-department task force predicating their work on what the audiences need, or as Greathouse so succinctly phrased it, "Do things because the audience wants it not because it's cool or because (as the IT department might boast) 'we can.' "

Sunday, October 14, 2007

CovARTing Along the Ohio River

A five-year floodwall mural project has wrapped up along Covington's riverfront creating breathtaking art that has a three-dimensional feel to it even though the works are painted on a flat surface. This project is another sign of the continued revitalization of the Northern Kentucyk riverfront and gives the southern shores of the Ohio something to show to convention goers and tourists.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NFL's Lack of Parity & Associated Business Application

Writer Anthony Crupi of Mediaweek writes in the September 24th issue about early season ratings for ESPN and NBC's primetime National Football League telecasts being down about 15 percent from a season ago ( Weak matchups, he says, appear to be part of the problem. I would argue the weak matchups aren't limited to evening hours. You're seeing it throughout the league every weekend in most games. Take for instance the American Football Conference Eastern Division, now dominated by everyone's perrennial Super Bowl pick New England. The Patriots are undefeated in the first five games and haven't been challenged by any of their opponents. Yet the three other teams in their division (Buffalo, NY Jets and Miami) have won two games COMBINED. Several other division leaders in both conferences have near .500 records. At least for this season, "the parity's over" in the NFL. As a result, the overall quality and caliber of play in the League also suffers. This threatens to erode fan interest if this trend continues.

This lack of competitiveness got me thinking that while marketing and PR professionals complain about how difficult it is to stay on top and be innovative, the alternative is to become irrelevant and have potential customers lose interest in your product. It compels each of us to rise above the mediocrity we see within our industries and sometimes within our organizations. What can we do to differentiate ourselves? How can we, as author Andy Sernovitz, writes in his book Word of Mouth Marketing, create a topic about what we do to enhance and prolong the conversation about what makes our organization, our industry great. We should even prod our competitors to do so the same so we can all elevate our industry in the minds of our customers. Something to think about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tim now a different kind of tool man

For years Tim Carter was known as the expert for the syndicated Ask The Builder syndicated show on television, newspaper and radio. While he still has those gigs (, he's now known more nationally as an internet publisher. Tim spoke to an overflow crowd at an American Marketing Association seminar in Cincinnati last week displaying a passion and enthusiasm for what the Internet can do for business-to-business and business-to-consumer interactions. Some of his more interesting observations:
  • Widget Ads (really mini website ads) are the latest phenomenon in effective online advertising. One example I found is boo-box ( which promotes relevant marketing;
  • Video ads are a must in your advertising budget. Tim doesn't advocate eliminating all traditional advertising but he says that the majority of your advertising should be Internet-based;
  • Optimization doesn't cut it. He says about 95 percent of your online advertising budget should be directed to paid placement on search engines which he says is much more effective (with only about five percent put towards optimization).

Finally Tim said marketers need to remember they are in the "pain relief business." And he advised that Internet marketing that works allows buyers to find an exact solution to their search query, a phrase he used to define Contextual Advertising.

Tim is certainly not alone in his bullishness. A new report from the Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that Internet advertising revenues reached a combined total of nearly $10 billion during the first six months of this year...a 27 percent increase from the same period a year ago-driven largely by interactive advertising revenue.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Going Green Too Quickly Can Cause Red Faces

In the conventions and meetings industry as in just about every other business sector today, a high premium is placed on being a more environmentally friendly company. But you can go too aggressive and make mistakes according to one local expert who is part of a regional convention Northern Kentucky is hosting this weekend.


Pat Frew, Director of Communications


Covington, KY/September 28, 2007—People who manage facilities for more than 50 colleges and universities throughout the Southeastern United States as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will be attending an upcoming conference hosted by Northern Kentucky University at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center October 6-9.

Two of the major topics explored by members of the Southeastern Regional Association of Physical Plant Administrators (SRAPPA) will be “green” or initiatives to make school buildings more environmental friendly and preparing for disasters such as pandemic influenza.

Steve Glazner, Director of Knowledge Management for SRAPPA’s national organization the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (, says SRAPPA’s 56th Annual Conference in Covington continues its long-standing tradition of high-quality educational programs and networking opportunities for its membership.

“The issues of sustainability and ‘green design’ have reached a true tipping point. Educational institutions are taking the lead in developing, integrating and educating sustainability concepts into their facilities’ operations, design and engineering curricula and through student involvement,” said Glazner.

Presenters will lay out details of a process called commissioning, prevalent the past two decades in the military and industrial sectors, which allows for greater cost-savings in construction and design while maintaining high-performance buildings.

One topic which is generating pre-conference interest relates to making campuses more environmental friendly. Monday, October 8 at 9:30 a.m., Project Engineer Megan Hawk of Facility Engineering Associates of Fairfax, VA will co-present the topic When Green Alternatives Make Sense. She says it’s important that university leaders don’t approach green programs too quickly.

“Sustainability without strategy is a mistake. In order to be successful, facility managers need to define their sustainable goals, develop a sustainable plan, and implement that plan. Without a strategy, universities can end up wasting valuable funds.”

The World Health Organization reported as of September 11, 2007 there have been 328 lab-confirmed cases of pandemic flu, originating from close contact with wild birds, mainly in Southeast Asia. Two hundred of these cases have resulted in death. Kate Van Sant serves as Vice President for Communications, SRAPPA and Assistant to the Associate Vice President of Facilities and Services, West Virginia University. On Tuesday, October 9 at 3:15 p.m. she will co-present the topic Pandemic Planning For Colleges and Universities, presenting resources and sample outline plans for combating the problem should an outbreak occur.

Van Sant says pandemic concerns relate to the responsibilities of facility managers. “Institutions of higher education function as small cities. In the event of a pandemic of avian influenza, you may need to shut down offices, classroom spaces, transportation systems, dorms, restaurants, even large athletic and cultural event centers. Students could become stranded on campus as well as employees assigned to serve the needs of students and to maintain facilities. Also, you have a high need to constantly communicate with all populations effected by the institution including parents, faculty, the surrounding community and emergency agencies.”

The SRAPPA region encompasses Northern Kentucky University as its northern most tip and goes as far south as Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as far west as Tennessee and Alabama and to the east the Atlantic Coast region. About 350 professionals are expected. Walk-in registration is available for the two-day educational sessions ($250) or for all four days ($500). For more information about the conference:

Monday, October 1, 2007


The authors of the bestselling book Made To Stick (Dan and Chip Heath) maintain in an article in the current issue of Fast Company Magazine (Time to Get Trigger Happy) claim that lunch trays have helped prove the value of environmental triggers in improving an idea's effectiveness.