the whole-y grail

the whole-y grail

the whole-y grail

Official blog of the warden ettinger group, a full-service, Phila., PA-based PR firm serving a diverse consumer, lifestyle + nonprofit clientele. Our culinary division, The Whole Enchilada PR, caters to restaurateurs, chefs + other food-related businesses, while "the word exchange" is aimed at clients seeking à la carte copywriting services.

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14 ways to show your clients and your business some love

February 14, 2014

(This post also appears on WomenonBusiness.com today, where @eatDEWwrite is a contributor.)

Valentine’s Day may be fleeting, but there are still 14 days left in February to shower your clients, and your own business, with some heartfelt acknowledgement and appreciation.

This short ‘n’ sweet post will get you going in the right direction, internally and externally. Once you start down the list, you’ll likely notice a few tactics you can expand upon. 

For your clients:

  • Host a Lunch and Learn event… Invite attendees to bring a guest for free, and send them off with a coupon for a discounted service.
  • Recommend a book or white paper… Share your recently read white papers or business titles that you found helpful/insightful.
  • Pay it forward… Make a donation in your client’s name to a cause you feel passionate about (or one you’re pretty certain that they feel passionate about). This is a great way to connect clients to nonprofits, and demonstrates your charitable side/community connectivity.
  • Share the social media love… Throw up a simple Facebook or Google Plus message, tagging your client and spotlighting an accomplishment or service that you value. It’s free, takes less than a minute, and is sure to brighten your client’s day with a burst of surprise positivity.
  • Pick up the phone… A spontaneous check-in call to past and current clients to see how they’re/business is doing, how their new grand baby is, how their child’s college process is going—things you paid attention to while courting, but may have since forgotten about. Remembering and checking in shows that you are thinking about them outside of the current project scope or sales cycle.
  • Send some sweets… Who doesn’t love a good cookie, cupcake or box of chocolate? Just buy enough for the recipient to share with coworkers.
  • Be vulnerable… Invite honest feedback from your clients/customers. Let them know that you are continually aiming to improve their experience, and that for all the things you do right, there are certain areas where you’re hoping to improve. Then sit back and let them lead the conversation.

 For your business:

  • Rewrite your About page Take the spotlight off of you and focus on what you want your customers to gain by doing business with you. The new golden rule is to treat others as they want to be treated: write your About page to energize current clients and to entice prospective clients.
  • Add new testimonials… Reaching out to past and current customers/clients in a friendly, earnest manner—again putting the focus on them—is a good way to get feedback on what you’re doing right, and wrong, and may lead to conversations about current needs and how you can help
  • Get your taxes done… Early.
  • Freshen up your Services copy… Businesses evolve; does your website reflect the new skills and services you’ve added? Are there case studies or samples of work that you can upload directly to your site or to your LinkedIn and SlideShare pages?
  • Love thy network… Sending a friendly note of appreciation or thanks, or simply acknowledging that you’ve been reading their social media posts, love the content they’re sharing, kudos for an award announcement. chances are they’ll remember this and repay in kind at a future date
  • Update the look of your eNews… Revisit your digital newsletters from the past year, and along with your team, critique the use of white space, the font, the length of posts, the headlines and post titles, the quality of images… Then, compare your findings to those eNewsletters you have received and been impressed with. Where can you improve?
  • Send a gift card… Gift cards are an easy, not-too-extravagant way to say “thank you” to industry partners who have referred you to new clients, or have done a favor for one of your existing clients. Come to think of it, why not send out a few to your favorite vendors as well. These days, a few extra bucks, even if in plastic form, always comes in handy.
  • BONUS: Return an ancient email… This may seem silly, but the other day, I wrote back to a young man who’s email I missed SIX MONTHS AGO, looking for employment. He was so surprised and pleased, he replied with a very nice note and thanked me for taking the time to acknowledge his email. I still have a few others that I found in SPAM to take care of. I know I am not the only one.

I’d love to hear the different ways that you show your clients, and your business, some love, so please leave a comment. And remember, your clients, and your business, are worth appreciating each and every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. ♥

another helping please: chipotle’s animated short

September 20, 2013

chipotle-scarecrow

→In the “a picture is worth a thousand words” department, Chipotle’s recently  released three-minute-plus animated ad and its counterpart parody have gotten a  lot of attention this week. The short certainly delivered on attaining audible buzz,  and had I not casually mentioned to my sons the other day, that I’d snuck out to  our local Chipotle for a carnitas salad bowl and a side of sunshine, I might still be  embarrassingly behind in the conversation.

It took me about 25 seconds to fully fall under the film’s spell, right about when the  main character, Mr. Scarecrow, steps into the food processing and packaging  factory. The eerily beautiful music and transporting animation makes having a visceral reaction nearly impossible, as does the keen portrayal of Mr. Scarecrow’s discouraged state. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I wanted to reach through the computer screen and give Mr. Scarecrow a hug.

The recent parody (also admirably clever) insinuates an underlying evil behind the messaging, but isn’t all advertising manipulative? And, it’s not like offensive marketing (calling out the competition) is a new trend. In my humble opinion, I think Chipotle’s creative team did exactly what content marketers and brand managers have been advising: They found a way to make an emotional connection to consumers. And, they did it in a medium that speaks to a range of age groups. Advertising aside, the creators also deserve acknowledgment for a well-crafted story. I have a similar view of Fast Food Nation, which takes on the fast food industry in a far more hard-edged manner than Chipotle has.

But back to the emotional ploy… We all know that food is a feel-good commodity. It’s not a stretch to play up ingredients that feel good going down, and that are also good for you. (You nutritionists can take this one on; accepted thinking is that organically grown, minimally processed foods are healthier, but I am certainly curious to learn more.) Chipotle is capitalizing on a popular, health-minded sentiment. Add into that, the love-hate reality of a technology-driven universe, and the message resonates even more.

Looking back over the years, the cotton industry’s “Fabric of our Lives,” Coca-Cola’s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” and “Give. Live. Love.” commercials are among my favorites, as are some of the Apple ads created over the past couple of years. Their allure, in my humble opinion, stemmed from an ability to convey an understanding of core human values, as well as a sense of being essential in consumers’ everyday lives. Even McDonald’s worked this into their advertising campaign a couple of years ago, in a commercial that showed a family gathering around a formal dining room table, coming together for conversation and quality time—with their fast-food plated on pretty dishes.

My grandmother repeatedly advised me that the fastest way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. In Chipotle’s case, it’s aiming at women and men, and at our stomachs—by hitting us in the heart first. Love it or loathe it, I think it’s a damn solid piece of marketing.   —@eatDEWwrite

Tips for choosing an Oriental or Decorative Rug

August 15, 2013

If you’re in the market for a new Oriental or decorative rug, we’ve got a guy… and a gal. Here’s a few tips on how to go about making that very difficult—but equally fun—decision, and getting a gorgeous match to your oh-so-fabulous style.

Knots and Weaves Decorative Rugs and Home Decor

background.jpgHomeowners often walk into our showroom with visible concern about purchasing a large decorative rug. We are never surprised by this, because we get that committing to a particular size, style and color takes a thoughtful approach. Of course it’s easy for us; in our showroom, we get to move rugs and furniture around all day long, creating different looks to accommodate our moods, or to show off a particular design. Customers do not have that luxury.

Fortunately, most of our showroom visitors do come in with a predetermined mindset on the top considerations of style, where the rug is being placed (high- or low-traffic area), what’s being matched to the rug, and budget. This is a plus, because it puts them one step ahead in the selection process and makes it easier for us to highlight the rugs that we think best meet that criteria.

When it comes to patterns, however…

View original post 551 more words

think outside the classroom – PR tips from a summer intern

August 12, 2013

→Now that we’re almost halfway through August, it’s official: the end of summer is near. During the next couple of weeks, I’ll be wrapping up my internship with the warden ettinger group and prepping to return to Penn State. It’s hard to believe how quickly the months passed; it seems like just yesterday I was returning from studying abroad in Italy, eager and excited to begin working with Dawn and Kim. What can I say… time flies when you’re having (PR & social media) fun.

After spending some time reflecting on my internship experience, I thought I’d share the 10 Things I’ve learned about PR:

1. Research is a vital component of public relations.

Whether it’s researching a client, particular topic, or the general opinion of the public, it’s an extremely important component and skill to have when working in public relations.

2. You must be able to write informally.

You must know how to write in a witty, entertaining manner that will grab the audience in addition to being able to write formally. It’s not all press releases and fact sheets in the field of PR.

3. Networking is a skill to be mastered.

Every person you meet is a potential future contact.

4. The work is never done.

There is always, always something that needs to be done. Whether it’s tweeting, posting or researching, the work never ends.

5. Social media is a great resource.

Don’t get me wrong, I learn in every single communications class that social media is essential, but I never knew just how many social media outlets there were and how easy it can be to reach a wide variety of people.

6. Communication is a vital component of PR.

Constant and consistent communication makes a big difference in the success of a company—you must communicate to know what the client wants/needs, and what your boss wants. Communication, in all forms, is crucial for success.

7. The media is dynamic and constantly changing—you have to keep up!

In yesterday’s world, people got their information from the T.V or newspapers. In today’s world, social media is one of the most effective promotional pathways. Five years from now it could be something entirely different, and it is important to be on top of it to stay relevant.

8. Time management is key.

Because of the heavy workload that comes with a job in PR, I realized, through a certain amount of trial and error, managing my time and tasks is integral.

9. Organization is also key.

I had papers, documents, emails, etc. that I needed to keep track of, which required me to improve my existing organizational skills. Without organization, I would have gone crazy trying to find everything I needed.

10. In the field of PR, I know I’ll never be bored.

Not only will there always be something to do, but also I know I’ll always be learning. Whether conducting research for a new project, helping with a client issue or interacting with colleagues, clients, journalists, consumers, etc., you become smarter and more aware of the world every day.

Looking back on the last few months, I’d definitely recommend an internship to anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in PR. While I’ve certainly learned a great deal about public relations and social media from my communications classes at PSU, diving straight into the world of PR has allowed me to have a firsthand experience of the “real deal”. And in working with a smaller-sized firm like TWE, there was no shortage of industry practices to learn, client tasks to complete, helpful tips to take note of—or excitement.

Thanks to all who have been a part of my internship journey. It’s been a blast!

@PeachesnCream01

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the abcs of seo (read: for newbies)

August 2, 2013

our intern gets her SEO on… + a guest blogging gig right here

→Anyone with a website knows about SEO, it’s just whether or not they’re doing anything about it or how important it is to traffic and visibility. Even those without one have some sense of SEO’s significance to a brand. In my case, despite being at the highest level of my university PR education (I’ll be a senior at Penn State this fall), I had zero experience with SEO. My internship with the warden ettinger group, however, changed that.

If you’re as clued out as I temporarily was, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, a backend web tool created to help businesses work their way up the online company ladder on search engines such as Google and Yahoo.

Once I had a more concrete understanding of what SEO is and how to implement it into a website, I did what most people do when trying to master something quickly: I began my own Google search, “SEO for PR,” and spent too many hours to tally, reading every link that popped up.

After nearly going blind reading articles and blogs, and scouring PR-industry websites, I was still unsure what to do with all of this information. Thankfully, I remembered the website that has videos and tutorials on everything you can think of: YouTube. It turned out to be a goldmine for videos that show and comprehensively explain (in human language) how to use all of the websites necessary when optimizing a website.

For example, I found one video that showed how to download WordPress SEO by Yoast, and then where to input all of the information (not the most intuitive process).

This video also caught my attention; it’s geared for beginners (like myself), and does a good job explaining keywords. There was a lot of detail regarding the importance of keywords and how to find those related to your website and industry’s specific content. Delving further, the video broke down the process of  implementing those keywords for the most effective SEO.

Through all my research I picked up several useful (and understandable!) tips, from sites such as this, that you might find worthwhile as well. And, if you have some that I did not mention, or you’ve learned from trial and error, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the post.

Pick the right keywords:

All keywords should have high search volume and low competitiveness within the search world to maximize visibility of your website’s content. You can use Google Adwords to help you there.

Don’t go overboard. Only around 3% of each page’s content should be dedicated to keywords. Each keyword must be relevant and should appear several times throughout the content.

Page titles and main navigation links should be keywords.

Meta title tags are very important for a website’s SEO. Instead of giving you the high-tech definition of what they are, simply know that they help search engines and users know what your site is about. And, when implemented correctly, meta tags can really help boost your website’s visibility on search engines. These meta title tags should contain the keywords you think your target audience will search for via Google or MSN to find your particular service.

As you can see, yes, implementing SEO takes a lot of research (read: time and effort), so the big question is, is it worth it?

The experts (and now, me) offer up a resounding, “yes.”

Without SEO, most people will never know your website or business exists, and therefore it remains one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating a website.
@PeachesnCream01

go on, Gimp it a try

July 2, 2013

If you’re like us, you spend a great deal of time going through all your business’ written content with a fine-toothed comb—five times. You want to make sure each word choice is ideal, punctuation is spot-on, and of course, that what you’ve written will keep your readers’ attention. (These attention span statistics are definitely worth peeking at.)

But even if you’ve mastered the art of “say it quick and say it well,” you may lose someone before they even begin reading… If your content is suffering in the visual department, that is.

We all have endless opportunities online to not only sound, but look, our best. And fortunately, it’s not necessary to hire a graphic designer to make some basic enhancements to your overall online “look”.

Confession: I have no official graphics training. That said, I created this (just updated the cover photo this morning):
Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 10.10.39 PM

Now, I realize this particular work is not mind-blowing; however, it’s clean, sleek and consistent with TWE’s overall branding.

Can you remember the last time you went to a Facebook page or a website that had grainy images, a messy layout or simply a generally unappealing look? Can you remember what your immediate reaction was?

…So then you agree: Graphics are just as important—and at times more important—than words.

Now, if you’re ready to test the graphic creation waters, purchasing a program like Photoshop or Illustrator may be an overzealous move. But, there are plenty of free online programs that are great less complicated (but still quite comprehensive) alternatives. My personal favorite is Gimp. It’s pretty intuitive to begin with, but whenever I have a how-to question, I can always find the answer easily YouTube.

If you’re ready to get rolling but have a few questions, feel free to shoot me an email. Or, if you still would rather having nothing to do with your graphics but know your overall online image could use a lift, we can help.

—@kimettinger

list lust: 13 lists to improve your (work) day

April 19, 2013

(this post first appeared on womenonbusiness.com on April 18, 2013)

→In the market for some new office art? Here’s a tip: Skip the ethereal paintings and photographs and surround yourself with a creative display of insight and advice, culled from your favorite sources. If you don’t mind dedicating a few pages of printer paper to your design, you can quickly create eye-catching “snippets for success” to motivate yourself and others during the workday.  Use all the bold fonts and colors that you want, but just like the marketing pros advise, it’s the content, not the packaging that counts.

This lists of lists—13 for the year 2013—is a solid starting point for your in-office art project. Packed with tips, tools, inspiration, dos and don’ts for getting the most out of your work experience, these expert soundbites will keep you moving toward your goals—and ahead of the curve.

Have a list of your own to share? Please leave a link (or several) in the comment section. After all, we’re here to help each other.

build your brand by building relationships

February 19, 2013

(this post originally appeared on womenonbusiness.com)

→What better day to mull the topic of relationships than Valentine’s Day? After all, the masses (and, you and me) have been at it all week, conjuring up the perfect plan to show their significant other that he/she is special, and taking extra care not to overlook any hidden expectations.

I’m trusting you’ve got that one in the bag, but what about your business relationships? Have you taken stock lately of what you could be doing more of to convey appreciation and commitment to your existing customers/clients, as well as lay the foundation for strong ties with those you’ve interacted with recently? And, are you putting in the time to learn about these new acquaintances, rather than leaping in after the first couple of meetings with a request to sign on the dotted line?

Just like a friendship or lasting romance, building a business relationship doesn’t happen in a single meeting or communication. It can take months, even years before you win enough trust for that person or company to spend money with you. And, for those relationships that you already have, you won’t be able to rely on coveted word of mouth marketing (one of the best tools in your toolbox) if you’re not delivering on service or quality. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that people are more prone to refer your services if they feel valued by your company. The same is true for vendors. If you’re taking good care of them, chances are, they’ll pay it forward.

There is a lot of good advice out there on how to improve your relationship skills. One that I enjoyed, especially as a mother (the author’s lessons are based upon what her children taught her), is this throwback to “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I suspect you’ll both enjoy and find value in it.

Here a little more advice for improving your relationship skills, served up in digestible bullets: 

  • The fastest way to earn trust, is to make others feel important and express genuine concern over the issues/challenges they face. And, by demonstrating that you have their, not your, best interest in mind.
  • Confident people attract others; egotistical people do not.
  • Avoid succumbing to self-serving motives and strive to be helpful in an earnest way.
  • Shut up and LISTEN.
  • Validate others’ opinions.
  • Admit when you’re wrong.
  • Apologize.
  • Be generous with praise when deserved.
  • Say “thank you.”
  • Never lose the humanistic side of sales.
  • Be responsive to your clients and vendors; follow up with them as soon as possible.
  • Refer and introduce your client’s services to others when appropriate. This will show that you care about the success of their business, not just your sale.
  • Be personal and funny in conversation, but don’t forget to retain decorum and respect.
  • Put in the facetime: Despite the perception that all business is conducted via computer, clients and customers still want to see the recipient of their checks once in awhile.

However…

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have made it easier than ever to keep in touch, elevating social media’s merits as a must-use tool for building and maintaining solid, mutually beneficial relationships—and for turning new relationships into business. Yesterday I shared this post by @GlenGilmore, which instead of being inspired by children, is inspired by, well, what we are celebrating today: LOVE.

The tie-in to all of the above, is that social media, at its core, is about building relationships.

Ultimately, it all comes down to this:

“Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success as a business owner.”
—Michael Denisoff, founder/CEO, Denisoff Consulting Group, Redondo Beach, CA

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