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: Brands Taking a Stance

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Brands Taking a Stance

In overwhelming numbers, today’s top brands are beginning to take stances on certain issues and stepping up on a soap box to make those positions known. In recent years, we’ve seen many businesses take positions on social and even some political issues. The conventional thought has long been that doing so runs the risk of 1. alienating some of your audience, and 2. opening your brand up to even harsher criticism of the campaign in question, but with time we’re seeing more and more companies and brands shift their strategies towards embracing the potential positive impacts of commenting on political and social issues.

Maybe it’s companies beginning to cater to Millennials, or maybe these companies have deemed 2018 as the perfect time to begin a conversation about more than just their brand. A recent study from Weber Shandwick, a PR agency, found that 51% of Millennials would be more likely to buy products from companies that have a CEO that have taken a stance on a controversial issue.

In recent weeks, we’ve all seen the Colin Kaepernick Nike ad campaign pop up in social media and on the news, with everyone from the President to your grandma weighing in. But during that time, a few other brands make social statements that demonstrate how doing so can go very right, and sometimes not so right.

Animal Crackers, a Nabisco product, has a new look, embracing a packaging change that animal rights activists have long fought for. The Barnum’s Animals packaging makeover now shows the familiar animals from the original box out in the open, walking freely in the wild as opposed to in cages or circus tents, as previous packaging depicted. This change comes a little over a year after the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Company closed due to poor attendance that was at least partially brought on by criticism of the company’s treatment of animals.

Mondelez International
Kiichiro Sato/AP

Even PETA weighed in on the Barnum’s Animals packaging change. “The new box for Barnum’s Animals perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates caging and chaining exotic animals for circus shows. No living being exists simply to be a spectacle or to perform tricks for human entertainment, yet all circuses and traveling shows that use animals treat them as mere props, denying them everything that’s natural and important to them,via NPR. 

And in a culture that has seen a hefty spike in vegetarianism relating to animal rights, as well as an ever-expanding market for pet owners (in 2017, pet owners spent $69 billion on their furry friends), Nabisco knew that it was the right time to make this change. While there will always be someone somewhere who is crotchety about change, this packaging re-design was a virtually no-risk move that helps the brand align with consumer values.

Another recently released ad was the new Land O’Lakes She-I-O campaign. While the campaign was aimed at bringing awareness to the women farmers out there, it missed the feminist mark that we believed it was going for.

Land O’Lakes is a consumer brand best known for producing one of the world’s greatest gifts: butter. What consumers may not know, however, is that the brand is also a member-owned agricultural cooperative made up of 1,791 farmers  And, according to the company, many of these farmers are women. In celebration of Women’s Equality Day in August, Land O’Lakes honored female farmers through a video that also served as the kick off to their new “All Together Better” campaign, which is aimed at creating awareness around the crucial role women play in an industry that many assume is dominated by men.

From a production standpoint, the brand and its agency, The Martin Agency, killed it. The overall message, concept and visuals are spot on. The video is beautifully produced, featuring real female farmers in real farm environments. All the pieces are in place to make this a truly effective video…except the music.

Teaming up with country music singer Maggie Rose, Land O’Lakes developed “She-I-O”—a new, progressive take on Old MacDonald that sought to transform the song from an antiquated nursery rhyme to an anthem of female empowerment. Now, I’m no music critic, and perhaps it’s the childish nature of the original, but the song feels hokey and nearly comes off as a mockery of the thoughtful and relevant message. As this Jezebel article points out, “…they cannot get any more specific about what she or we can do, other than working really long hours. In the service of what? Under which conditions?” Maybe that’s too much to ask for a three-minute video, but perhaps a different approach would have garnered a better reaction.

At the end of the day, will the brand’s reputation be hurt by this song choice? Likely not. The overall message is authentic and one they can truly stand behind. But it is one more lesson to be learned about the ways brands should (or shouldn’t) participate in social commentary.

Trending from G/L: All’s Whale at IKEA

The Blog

Ben Schwab
Art Director

Trending from G/L: All’s Whale at IKEA

A popular story passing through the news cycle earlier this month detailed the failed rescue of a pilot whale near the Thai-Malaysian border. The animal was spotted struggling to breathe and swim on its own. A rescue attempt was performed, but ultimately, they were unable to save the whale. A following necropsy would reveal that the creature carried a gut-blocking count of 80 plastic bags in its stomach.

This story is the latest in a series of reports documenting sea creatures that have been discovered off of the globe’s shorelines, having eaten multitudes of waste. And while each case is shocking and may feel like an anomaly, they have only been increasing in frequency. Overall it is projected that roughly 18 million pounds of plastic waste is deposited into the world’s oceans each year.

In reaction to this incident, the Thai government has considered placing a tax on all single-use plastic bags. But it’s not just governments that are leaping to immediate action on the issue. Following this story, Ikea voiced its growing concern with the issue and created a plan to take action.

Ikea is not only phasing out all of their single-use plastic products, such as plastic straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, bin bags and more by 2020, they’re also aiding consumers to live more sustainably. A series of investments and projects that include a plastics recycling plant, windfarms, and the development of new products such as faucet tap nozzles, solar panels and vegetarian options in their cafes, all contribute to the first steps of their initiative.

Great brands have the ability to do great things – and IKEA is a shining example. Work like this will positively impact IKEA’s image and standing among every audience well into the future – a future that they’re helping to ensure is prosperous for everyone. Here at G/L we appreciate the brands and organizations that do the right thing for right reasons, and are honored to work with them to tell their story.

If you find yourself floundering and in need of assistance with your next world-changing project, drop us a line. We strive for smart and meaningful solutions to problems, both for our clients and for the community we all live in.

For those interested in making a difference and living a more savvy, fun and sustainable existence, here’s some creative solutions for giving second life to those single-use plastic bags.

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.

Trending from G/L: “Black Mirror” Episode Comes To Life

The Blog

Ben Schwab
Art Director

Trending from G/L: “Black Mirror” Episode Comes To Life

Fans of the popular Netflix series “Back Mirror” are no strangers to its delightfully dark, prescient perspective on the human condition, our cultural relationship with technology, and how those things will often come to odds with one another. One episode in particular, Nosedive, imagines a world where people can rate each other from one to five stars based on every interaction they have. However, unlike gaining or losing followers over social media, this social credit system directly impacts an individual’s socioeconomic status.

Social Credit System IRL

This may sound like an over-exaggerated interpretation of our personal investment/obsession with social image and acceptance, but it carries an added weight after discovering that this concept may not exist purely within the realm of science fiction. In fact, a form of this big brother monitoring is already rolling out in China.

First announced in 2014, China has begun testing what is essentially a social credit system. This system is currently handled through local councils and non-disclosed tech platforms, and exists to reward those who exhibit anything deemed as positive behavior and punish negative behavior. Individuals would carry a score based upon their observed behaviors and this number can dictate how a person is treated in everyday interactions.

The potential repercussions of these social punishments include such things as denied purchase of plane tickets or hotel rooms, having your Internet access throttled, denied opportunities for better jobs, and even the possibility of open public shaming when labeled as a “Bad Citizen.” While on the positive end individuals can expect perks for high scores such as increased boosting on dating apps, reduced energy bills and better interest rates from banks.

Marketing Takeaways

While we may cringe at the notion of a social credit system applied to human beings, the concept really isn’t all that foreign to brands, PR professionals, marketing professionals and the like. Everything that a brand does, says, tweets and hashtags has an affect, from minuscule to massive, on their overall perception. A run of bad press can destroy a brand’s good standing with consumers, just like a series of positive press can improve a brand’s standing. Say the right things, and a brand’s social credit can earn more loyalty, improved partnerships, etc. But say the wrong things, and face a long, uphill climb to regaining the trust of your audience.

In today’s digital world of screenshots and databases, it’s essential to carefully maintain a consistent message, personality and presence in the market. Just like a product recall can have long-lasting affects on consumer trust, screenshots of deleted tweets can spread like wildfire and have the same long-lasting affects on a brand’s reputation. That’s why it’s important to regularly affirm both, internally and externally, what your brand stands for and how that is communicated.

Looking to evaluate your brand and improve its “social score?” We know a few people who can help with that.

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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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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How to fight Ad Blockers? More Quality Content and Native Advertising

The Blog

Mary Sawyer
Vice President of Public Relations

How to fight Ad Blockers? More Quality Content and Native Advertising

While in the past, some companies and publishers have scoffed about advertorials, or sponsored content that is designed to look like editorial, now there is a renewed interest in native advertising. Ad blockers are changing the entire equation of how to reach consumers.

According to a report commissioned by Adobe and conducted by PageFair, the number of consumers using ad blockers in the U.S. increased 48 percent during the last year. There are 198 million active adblock users around the world.

With Apple announcing that they are allowing ad-blocking apps, digital advertising is on the verge of being turned upside down. Consumers want to avoid advertising as they listen to music, stream videos or check their mobile devices. They’ll download apps and pay extra for services that block ads.

PR and social media practitioners have been counseling companies that “content needs to be a priority” for all marketing efforts. Now, ad blockers are driving home the necessity of producing entertaining or educational subject matter that provides a positive end user experience.

With native advertising, the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience. The intention is to invite the consumer to be engaged.

Native advertising is everywhere online, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, YouTube and Buzzfeed. Good native advertising, like good public relations, should be informative and relevant to the reader.

A consumer might be more than happen to read a story sponsored by a consumer packaged good company if she can obtain an easy dessert recipe. Likewise, a pet owner looking for grooming tips might gladly watch sponsored instructional videos. Whether you have a B2B or B2C company, you will need to be promoting your product or service in a new way to effectively utilize native advertising.

For years, online marketers watched as banner ad clicks plummeted and then disappeared. Marketers followed up with a variety of other methods to squeeze their message onto a given page, but consumers became fed up with cluttered websites, obtrusive videos and interference to what they want to see.

It’s time for marketers to realize that if they want to get their brand message through to these folks, native advertising presents great opportunities. It is a combination of PR and advertising that can be tremendously leverage through social media. Content that is engaging, enlightening and/or entertaining can be shared with ease, and provide the marketer with huge audiences.

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Trending Now from G/L: Hardee’s gets Unexpected Viral Social Media Exposure

The Blog

Luke Smith
Senior Account Executive

Trending Now from G/L: Hardee’s gets Unexpected Viral Social Media Exposure

Unanticipated positive PR/marketing should be embraced by your brand. Hardee’s did just that when Facebook user David Yardley posted a moving photo to the Hardee’s Facebook timeline.

The attached photo is one I took on Saturday July 11, 2015 at Hardee’s on Tazewell Pike. It just really was a kind moment to witness between your worker and a elderly lady. I came through the drive through and went across the street and just happened to look over at Hardees as I pumped my gas and happened to see this as it took place. Your worker had been cleaning the glass I assume when the customer, the elderly lady started out to her ride. He stopped what he was doing and took her by the hand and helped her across the sidewalk and parking lot to her ride.


It just really spoke to me, I guess since so much negative media lately has been around the race card. Black and white, young and old all come together in this picture. I watched as he continue to help her until she was in the car and left. I admire this young man and appreciate his kindness.”

It was a simple gesture of compassion, chivalry and respectfulness that was caught on camera. David Yardley did not expect the wave of overwhelming positive support his simple photo would receive. Nearly 18,000 likes and 4,300 shares later, Hardee’s received multiple millions of impressions, press coverage in major national publications and positive recognition for being associated with the young man, Kailen Young, seen helping the elderly woman in the picture.

viral social media

Hardee’s handled the situation flawlessly- putting their Public Relations team into action, publicly recognizing the young man and rewarding him a $1,000 check at a press event for doing the right thing.

It truly is amazing how powerful and viral social media can be. It quite literally can make or break your brand. While Hardee’s had the good fortune of being a part of something positive, many brands are on the unfortunate end of embarrassing and negative mishaps.

For example, in May, a Burger King employee in Florida was seen dumping a vat of used cooking oil directly into a storm drain. Not only was it illegal, it was also incredibly hazardous for the environment.

Social media channels everywhere erupted in anger. As a result, Burger King’s brand suffered major setbacks and received tons of negative publicity.

It was later discovered that this was not an isolated incident at this particular Burger King, and the employees had been dumping oil into the drain for several weeks- nearly 50 gallons collectively.

Major damage control and crisis management was a necessary response. Fortunately for Burger King, they took the right actions by retraining all of their employees, changing procedures, putting together a comprehensive environmental cleanup plan and firing the GM and the employee involved in the incident.

With the availability and ever-presence of mobile technology, situations like this can and will be documented by the public. In short, it is important for your brand to always be equipped to not only embrace the good, but also prepare for the worst.

Shoot us a message to share your thoughts or learn how proactive Public Relations planning and crisis management can help your brand.

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Why Storytelling in Media Relations Matters

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Why Storytelling in Media Relations Matters

As of January 2013, there were more than 600,000 restaurants in the United States. With so much competition, how does one stand out from the pack?

The first option is paid media or marketing.

Television spot during a Cardinals game – $500-$2,500

Radio spot during primetime commute – $1,000-$3,000

Prominent Highway Billboard (per month) – $1,500-$5,000

You get the idea.

Advertising is necessary, but expensive. And don’t think for a second the restaurant down the street isn’t looking into the same methods.

So how do you make your business different? How do you effectively reach your targets and make them remember you? That is where public relations, or earned media, comes into play.

When a public relations professional first approaches a pitch, they are focused on one thing: storytelling. There may be more than 600,000 restaurants in the United States, but each one has a brand story. The key is figuring out what that story is.

Here are five tips for identifying an effective brand story:

1) Stop trying to sell

You aren’t mining for the brand story behind your business simply to drive sales. Sure, that is the end goal, but with brand storytelling there is so much more that goes along with it. You want to engage customers. You want them to remember you. Next time they are thinking about going to an Italian restaurant for dinner, you want them to think of the restaurant they read about in the newspaper that has been run by the same family for three generations.

2) Know your client

This is a big one. Nothing is more frustrating for a client than hiring someone to work on PR that isn’t willing to put in the work to find out about your company. It is not enough for someone trying to write a pitch to simply know the basics. It takes digging and asking questions to find that story that is going to grab a journalist’s and the audience’s attention.

3) Know your audience

Just as important as knowing your client, you need to know your audience. Who does the client want to target? What publications are you pitching this to? There may be one story, but there is more than one way to tell it so that it hits the target.

4) Be relatable

What is the point of telling a story if it isn’t one that people are interested in? It is probably not advantageous to talk about the billionaire that added this restaurant to his portfolio. No. This is not a story that people are interested in. This is not a story that is going to make customers want to experience what you have to offer. Make it a personal, relatable story.

HINT: If the brand story that you create is something that customers can mention in casual conversation, you’ve nailed it.

5) Be newsworthy

This is more important in the drafting of a pitch than in the storytelling, but it is certainly still an element of effective storytelling. Create a story that makes sense in the world. Find out what your target audience is talking about, and mine for a story that aligns with that. This also makes it easier for a journalist to take what you are offering and turn it into something more than a mention on page 10.

Does brand storytelling sound a bit like journalism? Well, it should. Developing your story takes some digging, but once you find it, have some fun with it! Take advantage of the opportunity to give your customers an inside look at your business. Tell your story and I guarantee they will remember you.

We know your brand has a story to tell. Let us help you find it.

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