Remote Learning Presents Unique Challenges for Technical Schools

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Remote Learning Presents Unique Challenges for Technical Schools

A Wall Street Journal article and accompanying podcast recently addressed several formidable obstacles faced by technical schools during the pandemic. Like other educational institutions, these schools had to quickly pivot from in-person to remote learning.

To an even greater extent than traditional schools, the tech schools rely on in-person instruction. When Covid-19 shut down their campuses, their students had access to their computers at home but not the state-of-the-art equipment that enabled them to be tested in real-world applications like welding and electrical wiring. Teachers had to learn new technologies for their virtual instruction, but also had to devise innovative methods to keep the students engaged and on track to pass certifications that tested hands-on skills.

An administrator at a leading technical college-related that Zoom and TEAMS worked reasonably well for general ed classes. A welding instructor at a local St. Louis technical high school described in addition to learning how to use Google classroom, Zoom, and welding software, he created Go Pro videos for his instruction. He discovered students did better watching welding videos and answering questions from the video versus just reading a chapter and answering review questions.

Throughout the pandemic, technical school administrators and teachers worked together and found ways to improvise their learning and succeed. We salute their dedication to preparing students with skills and certifications in so many high-demand fields such as manufacturing, automotive, welding, cybersecurity, and a variety of STEM areas.

While video will never replace the rich experience of engaging with a teacher face-to-face, vocational high schools and colleges are now thinking about how it can be used in new ways in the future. We have known for some time that video is a formidable marketing tool, but now we are seeing its increasing role as a study resource. Video content will continue to be a powerful connection for your internal and external audiences. If you would like some insights about the most effective and economical ways to integrate video into your practices, give G/L a call. With an in-depth storyboarding and scripting pre-production process, we efficiently shoot and edit compelling videos, as well as video animations

Advertisers Need to Connect with Soothing (and Responsible) Messages

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Advertisers Need to Connect with Soothing (and Responsible) Messages

During the past six months, people have exercised, watched puppy videos, done random acts of kindness and attempted thousands of ways to find relief from the traumas and negativity of 2020. There’s no need to recite the litany of bad news…suffice to say we are a weary and worried population.

Consumers are adapting their social and professional lives. In their free time, they may be finding solace with virtual happy hours, streaming shows, cooking new recipes and tackling home projects. Brands are adjusting their messages and outreaches to consumers, as they figure out how to satisfy their needs. For the brands, there are new challenges and also new possibilities.


A recent New York Times article described how several brands are taking advantage of opportunities to contact with fatigued consumers. There are products, services and innovations with soothing messages that offer to bring comfort into lives during an uncomfortable time. Advertisers are helping to spread awareness of them.

As also reported in the New York Times story, consumers should be skeptical. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for what ails consumers or brings them peace of mind. Communities are facing mental health challenges related to Covid-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a third of American adults have reported signs of anxiety or depression, and these consumers may be especially vulnerable.

As we continue to work through the challenges of 2020, brands must be mindful of the need to connect with consumers in meaningful, but always responsible ways.

Revising Your B2B Strategy in the Post-COVID-19 Era

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Revising Your B2B Strategy in the Post-COVID-19 Era

The world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 crisis, and every industry had to adapt to new circumstances to survive. What does that mean for the future of your business? Digital sales will undoubtedly play an increasingly bigger role in your marketing success.

McKinsey and Company, the global management consulting firm, is reporting major changes in the way that B2B buyers and sellers interact as a result of the crisis, and savvy companies are changing their go-to-market strategies to adjust to these changes.

McKinsey believes that we are at a digital inflection point, where B2B sales operations going forward will look fundamentally different from what they were before the pandemic.

They reached this conclusion based on voluminous findings from a survey conducted across 11 countries in seven sectors and 14 categories to better understand the impact of the crisis on customers and sellers.

One very relevant finding….looking forward, B2B companies anticipate digital interactions to be two to three times more important to their customers than traditional sales interactions. During the crisis, digital sales played a crucial role and increased dramatically as in-person and field team sales dramatically declined. McKinsey reports that these B2B model changes are very likely to be significant and long-lasting.

McKinsey found that buyers are now expecting a B2B purchasing process at least as convenient and robust as those that they experience in their personal digital shopping experiences.

B2B companies should address customers’ most pressing frustrations such as length of the ordering process, difficulty in finding products, technical glitches with ordering, confusing websites, a lack of information on delivery and technical support and difficulty setting up payments.

Other studies are backing up McKinsey’s findings that B2B buyers desire self-service functionality and better e-commerce experiences. As marketers navigate possible budget cuts and revise their plans for future go-to-market initiatives, they would be wise to address these issues. Luckily, we have a deep understanding of the user experience and consumers’ expectations and demands for their digital interactions with their brand. Get in touch with us to explore how we can transform your B2B brand’s online presence.

Missed Media Opportunities: Industry Trade Shows

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Missed Media Opportunities: Industry Trade Shows

Think about it: Doesn’t it make sense to make an effort to educate media similarly to the way you’d educate a prospective customer?

Industry trade shows offer the opportunity for companies to demo their latest and greatest products and personally interact with thousands of customers and prospective customers. However, they are a major investment in terms of time and resources, so you definitely want to take full advantage of any reasonable chance to promote your business.

We often see companies miss a very good opportunity that costs them very little extra in terms of time and money: They forget about media opportunities. Some do consider media, but they put time and money into a very minimal effort and just a small piece of the puzzle such as assemble product information in a document, call it a press release and assume that media will understand and appreciate its significance.

I get it…with the logistics of producing, shipping and assembling the booth, equipment and handouts, booking flights and hotel rooms, scheduling work shifts and meeting with clients, there often isn’t much time left to think about media. Having worked dozens of industry trade shows on behalf of clients, I can guarantee that having a trade show media relations strategy definitely pays off.

Influential reporters, editors, publishers, bloggers, advertising representatives and analysts all attend these trade shows. They appreciate the time and effort you take to help them learn aspects of the industry that are important to their audiences. You may or may not get immediate media coverage, but the payoff can go far beyond the walls and the timeframe of the show.

As media become more aware of you, and you hear about upcoming topics to be covered, you’re building good relationships and becoming well positioned for future coverage. You have to have an organized approach, though, and work the show. There is a lot of competition for media time.

How We Do It

We find out which media is attending and reach out to targeted individuals ahead of time. Then we explain why a meeting is worthwhile and we coordinate appointments. Of course, we make certain that the person they are meeting is prepared with key messages and a media kit that has news and relevant materials.

We run interference if the company spokesperson is tied up with a customer. We track people down if there are miscommunications or if there are individuals who have not responded. Most importantly, after the meetings we follow up to ensure that no opportunities slip away.

Don’t let media walk right by your booth on their way to hear some other company’s product news. 
As you go over your planning checklist for your next big show, ask yourself if you are maximizing your potential for getting media coverage.

If not, let’s talk about it. Fill out the form below and we can set up a conversation.

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Trending from G/L: The Changing Workforce and Making Good College Decisions

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Trending from G/L: The Changing Workforce and Making Good College Decisions

There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it? / The Graduate

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree and an executive position at a corporation is still a good option for many high school students, some may want to think their route to employment a little differently.

NPR recently ran a story about high paying trade jobs sitting empty while high school grads line up for university classes. The article discusses the perception that a bachelor’s degree is the fulfillment of the American dream, and the path to a good job.

Unfortunately, the reality right now is that a lot of college grads are having a rough time landing a job while industries are on the hunt for employees with different skill sets. Industries across the board are talking about a “skills gap” that exists as they struggle to fill mid-level technical positions.

For decades, parents and high school counselors have placed an emphasis on guiding students toward colleges for economic reasons, and in some cases, because of an outdated image of non-degreed workers being unskilled. Those attitudes now may be shifting. Many students who obtain certifications and mid-level skills and experience at technical schools have plenty of job offers, at good salaries, without needing to attend four-year programs, or incur large student loans.

These mid-level skills can be used in the electrical industries related to control systems or automation. The IT world, for example, has tremendous opportunities in application web development and computer network technology. They may require certifications and hands-on training but they don’t require a four-year degree.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) quotes a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute that says over the next decade, nearly 3½ million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap

Not every high school student wants or needs a bachelor’s degree to gain entry to a successful career. Let’s hope that we accept the needs of our changing economy so that we can help students make good choices. There are great technical schools that are using state-of-the-art technology to educate students in companies and fields where they will excel.

Ranken Technical College in St. Louis is an outstanding example of how schools are preparing students for a changing world. Ranken is focused on aligning its programs with industry needs so it can provide skills-based learning and job placement. Approximately 80 percent of their students are involved in work-based learning at any given time which pays off for them and for their future employers.

The future doesn’t have to be in plastics – there are lots of choices in lots of different areas. We might just need to think a little differently about how we approach them.

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications is a brand-driven marketing agency based in St. Louis, Missouri that specializes in higher education marketing. If you’re looking to update your university’s branding or enrollment outreach, please call 314-727-5850 or by clicking here.

The Lowdown on 360-degree and VR Videos

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

The Lowdown on 360-degree and VR Videos

With the widespread popularity of 360-degree and Virtual Reality (VR) videos, we’re getting a lot of questions about whether it makes sense to incorporate these immersion technologies in marketing programs.

Every company and situation is unique, but we thought you might be interested in the insights of one of our great production partners, Tom Petrie, who is director of photography for Bad Dog Pictures.

Tom explains that both 360 and VR allow viewers to interact with the content, instead of just sitting back and watching. The big difference is in how much interaction a user has, and where the videos can be viewed. Both have the ability to capture the entire scene in a 3600 view. However, the real advantage 360 video offers the marketing community is that viewers can watch them on Youtube, Facebook and company sites.

VR takes 360 to the next level, Tom explains. It is meant to be multi-sensory, so a headset, special glasses or other optical devices must be used when viewing the video to get its full effect. VR can incorporate a variety of ways the viewer can interact with the surroundings and currently is used more in gaming applications than marketing efforts.

“With 360 and VR videos, you invite someone to become more involved. The viewer is in control of what scene appears on the screen, decides what is of most interest and determines how long to view it. If you are using 360 and VR properly, by allowing him/her to make choices, you are getting a more engaged, more educated prospect or customer,” Tom says.

From the production standpoint, both involve filming a view in every direction at the same time, using one camera or a collection of cameras, and stitching the scenes together. “Since the technology has become more widely available in the last few years, production costs have come down and companies are finding 360 applications more attractive. For example, you no longer need to buy expensive viewers. Cardboard devices are now available and can be branded.”

Tom agrees with a recent New York Times article that marketers are going down a somewhat tricky path in producing these attention-getting videos.

“360 and VR can deliver increased customer engagement, but there has to be a good strategy in their use. The videos should add something beyond what a traditional video can provide. They should be more engaging. And they still must be strongly connected to your brand so that the viewer doesn’t get completely lost in the experience and forgets about your message.”

Here are a few examples of how 360 videos are used to deliver strong messages in engaging, successful campaigns:

A company tour: Shinola factory with Luke Wilson

A company charitable effort: A Walk in Their Shoes – TOMS

Showcasing a new sophisticated product: Tier 4 Locomotive Experience – GE

If you are interested in hearing more about 360 videos and how you might be able to use them, please give me a call. I’d love to discuss it with you.

And check out: 10 Reasonable Ideas On How To Use 360 Videos In Your Marketing Mix

 

Trending from G/L: New TV Tracking Opens New Doors for Brands

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Trending from G/L: New TV Tracking Opens New Doors for Brands

You should know when your brand’s paid advertising is supposed to run on TV. But it has been somewhat difficult to thoroughly monitor unpaid news or other programming brand coverage on TV through true TV tracking.

That situation appears to be changing, though, thanks to new media platforms and monitoring capabilities – just think about the benefits of being able to search for your brand’s appearance or mention on TV anytime.

According to a recent story in AdWeek, iQMedia has technology that can provide those capabilities. Marketers can now track every time their brands are mentioned and when their logos are shown. And they can monitor their competitor’s coverage.

The iQMedia platform includes spoken-word and logo recognition technology, and provides demographics, geographic and other statistics that a brand can use with its own internal metrics. The data is available within a couple of hours of its appearance on TV. Brands can also access six years of historical TV tracking and programming.

iQ Media’s platform includes spoken-word detection technology and, in what the company said is an industry first, logo recognition technology to identify when a brand is seen or heard on TV. It also provides demographic, geographic and time-of-day stats, and lets marketers correlate the raw data with their own internal metrics.

“Our systems are designed to be able to listen and hear for the content, and to be able to distinguish whether it’s in paid or earned,” said John Derham, iQ Media’s chief technology officer. “We get depth and breadth of content and resources in an unprecedented time frame.”

Domino’s Pizza, Energizer, the NHL, Red Bull and Sonic Drive-In will all be using the new platform, which makes data available to clients within a couple of hours of its appearance on TV. (Nielsen and comScore’s brand-mention services take 30 days.) Marketers can enter keywords, brand names or logos for the platform to track, much like a Google alert, and use the data to measure the ROI of theirs or their competitors’ major media investments.

These types of TV tracking tools give media planning and PR professionals’ insights that help to make better marketing decisions. The more that we know about who, what when, why and how people are brands; the better we are able to counsel our clients.

As measurement of success becomes more important to our clients, we’re putting data at the heart of everything we do. If you’d like to learn more about our approach, contact us using the form below:

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Trending from G/L: Thanks Canada for telling us we’re great!

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Trending from G/L: Thanks Canada for telling us we’re great!

A couple of weeks ago, Ken Bone, a debate audience member, emerged as an unlikely hero to Americans weary of political negativity. Someone referred to Mr. Bone as a “human version of a hug.” With a week to go until Election Day now, we keep looking for positive moments to keep us sane.

Now, our neighbors to the North in Canada are sending us virtual “hugs” and positive affirmations via a social media campaign called “Tell America It’s Great,” complete with a hashtag, a Twitter account and a series of YouTube videos.

Seems America could use some cheering up right about now. As their closest friends and neighbours, we thought we should take a minute to help remind them that no matter how bad things might seem at the moment, there are lots of reasons why we think they’re still pretty great.To paraphrase the Stuart Smalley character from Saturday Night Live, the campaign tells we Americans that, “We’re Good Enough, We’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Us.”

Designed by workers at a Toronto creative agency to make positive statements as a response to the depressing American political setting, the campaign is not selling anything. Its motivation is to be remind us that the world sees us as great.

The Canada campaign comes at a time when most Americans are desperately looking forward to the end of the election cycle with all of the sniping and accusations. We do need to take a breath and think about our national parks, our contributions to music and the countless other American innovations and characteristics that are admired by people throughout the world.

Many Americans are showing their appreciation to this campaign through a reciprocating “TellCanadaThankYou” campaign.

It is nice to receive a group hug from our kind Canadian neighbors. Maybe their goodwill and civility will inspire us to feel better about ourselves, as well as acting nicer to one another. Eh?

Have you seen any politically-focused messaging that stood out for its lack of, um, toxicity? Please share it with us using the form below.

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Geile/Leon Marketing Communications Wins New Business and Awards

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications Wins New Business and Awards

The year 2016 has been busy for Geile/Leon Marketing Communications so far as we proudly work with our great long-term clients and welcome a pair of terrific new clients – LCN, an industry leader in door control and Upper Iowa University, a private institution of higher education.

LCN Products, of Carmel, Ind., is an international brand of door closers and hardware that specializes in safety and security challenges. For LCN, G/L is providing strategic planning, marketing, branding and new product introduction services.

For Upper Iowa University, located in Fayette, Iowa, G/L is developing a strategic positioning and branding program that will be the basis for the institution’s future marketing and communications.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with our newest clients primarily because they’re great organizations to work with,” said Tim Leon, President and Lead Strategist at Geile/Leon Marketing Communications. “It’s our goal that every new client we bring on is the beginning of a long, productive partnership that will make both organizations stronger now and long into the future.”

And, while we don’t work for awards, it has been gratifying this year to be recognized for our efforts.

For instance, we are very pleased to have been named in the Small Business Monthly’s annual reader survey as one of the best businesses in the area. Readers named us as one of the Top 5 Marketing Firms in St. Louis.

The St. Louis Business Journal lists St. Louis advertising, marketing and public relations firms by number of employees. We’re in the Top 30 this year… not the biggest of the firms, but we’re proud of the capabilities we have to offer. Our clients know that we have most of the capabilities of much larger firms, but provide them unparalleled service, creativity and attention.

Have any questions about what we’re working on? Shoot us a note anytime:

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Top G/L Tips: Mary Sawyer on Trade Shows

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

Top G/L Tips: Mary Sawyer on Trade Shows

A Trade Show PR program is a terrific way to generate buzz beyond your booth that extends long past the trade show. And the best part: PR costs very little extra in terms of time and money!

Here are a few tips on how to make it happen. Mary Sawyer, VP of PR at Geile/Leon, shares what she has learned from years of experience helping clients maximize their trade show results.

Are you planning your next big show and looking for new ideas? Mary would love to hear about your plans and offer a few suggestions. Contact her by phone at 314-727-5850, ext 116, email at [email protected] or use the form below.

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