COVID-19 Learning: Parting with Profit

Ogden’s Own is the largest independent distillery in Utah. Up until recently, the distillery was perhaps most famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) for its Five Wives Vodka, a cheeky take on the presence of Mormonism in its home state. But over the last three months, people have been talking about Ogden’s Own for a much different reason – how they’ve shifted operations to support the community.

Ogden’s Own isn’t shy about crediting the local community for embracing the brand over the last decade and building it from a two-person concept to a multi-million dollar business. With this in mind, back in mid-March, Ogden’s Own CEO Steve Conlin made a bold pledge: to donate 100% of its profits made in March and April to members of the local Utah food and beverage community, specifically, the service staff – bartenders, chefs, waiters and waitresses – that are the backbone of the industry that’s helped them flourish.

Taking the pledge a step further, recognizing the widespread need for hand sanitizer in the wake of a national shortage, Conlin and the Ogden’s Own team saw the opportunity to use their existing infrastructure to begin producing the commodity for local residents, using a recipe sanctioned by the FDA to begin batching it nearly overnight. Instead of solely focusing on producing Five Wives Vodka, Madam Pattirini Gin or Porter’s Whiskey, enter Five Wives Hand Sanitizer. Two months later, Ogden’s Own has now produced more than 30,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for first responders, local government entities, regional corporations, and members of the local community, with no plans of slowing down. They’ve even donated thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer to the much-maligned Navajo Nation, a population struggling significantly with the virus.

Ogden’s Own maintained transparent communication with GreenRoom to aid in supporting the brand’s efforts. Crafting aggressive outreach plans to mirror the monumental shifts in the business and completely reworking an entire month of social content virtually overnight, the agency had to be as nimble as the Ogden’s Own team to remain in lockstep. The strategy was centered around disseminating critical information to keep a community safe rather than any element of self-promotion.

As such, the brand has not only been lauded for its generous actions, but also for its authentic communication and its accessibility to both its local community in-person and its large following on social media, in part due to the efforts of GreenRoom. By providing round-the-clock community management and messaging support, along with asset generation and media relations, GreenRoom ensured that Ogden’s Own had a voice that resonated in both the local and national landscape.

On the PR side, the agency thrust itself into lending real-time counsel and deployment of communication to manage the rampant consumer demand for hand sanitizer. Recognizing the role that the distillery was playing as a regional leader, GreenRoom leaned on its relationships with the local media in Utah and the surrounding states to facilitate media interviews for Ogden’s Own CEO, Steve Conlin, and spotlight features for Ogden’s Own across the digital, print and broadcast platforms. From March-May 2020 alone, Ogden’s Own saw more than 25 individual pieces of broadcast coverage spanning television, radio and podcasts; 20 pieces of print coverage in leading regional newspapers and magazines; and more than 75 online placements. This volume of results was unprecedented to the distillery and sparked a chain reaction: by virtue of the brand’s philanthropic efforts, there was a direct correlation in consumer demand for the spirits in the Ogden’s Own portfolio.

GreenRoom’s Digital Team likewise played a critical role as a mouthpiece for the brand. The social pages exploded and from March-May 2020, we generated over 5 million impressions (a 1,068% increase from the same time last year), over 330k engagements (a 645% increase), drove 24k consumers to our distributors website (a 533% increase) and increased our follower base by 15k (a 4,162% increase). As part of the agency’s community management, several incoming messages of gratitude, brand loyalty and enthusiasm about the brand abounded! A few standouts from Facebook:

“The drivers at the Ogden UPS Center appreciate you for helping us to stay safe as well as the people we are delivering to. Thanks!”

“You’re doing awesome things for this whole area, thanks for the flexibility to be able to change course and provide what is impossible to find!”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It’s so warming to see companies thinking outside the box and helping during this crisis.”

“My family lives on the Navajo Rez and your selfless act is appreciated more than you know! I’m proud to be from O-town, and my family and friends will definitely be supporting your business. Thank you again!!”

A few standouts from Twitter:

“I’ve often heard that small business is the backbone of a community. I would have never imagined they would be the front-line fighters in a pandemic.”

“So. Awesome. @OgdensOwn has been so generous to our community. Show them some love and order a bottle of one of their brands: @Fivewivesvodka @MadamPattirini @PortersWhiskeys @Underground_33 from HiTimeWine.net”

“This local distillery has earned my business. Thank you @FiveWives Vodka”

On social, the agency launched the #SupportLocal Giveaway to support the local communities, giving away gift cards Ogden’s Own purchased that were to local bars & restaurants. This initiative was one component of the Digital Team’s larger strategy, focused squarely on managing social media communication, launching interactive campaigns, amplifying user generated content and sharing the brand’s actions with the world.

What a difference six months makes – at the beginning of the year, nobody (even Ogden’s Own) would have expected that a Utah distillery would be relied upon as an essential resource for its entire state, but through nimble execution and a passion for helping those in need, that’s exactly what’s happened – and Ogden’s Own has no intentions of stopping any time soon.

COVID-19 Learning: Building Trust in a Global Crisis

Edifier, a trusted global audio brand with a quarter-century of industry leadership, connected with GreenRoom to help strengthen its brand recognition in the US market. Based abroad, the marketing team relies upon GreenRoom to be their eyes and ears on trending media conversations in the US audio consumer market.

When COVID-19 reached North America and communities went into quarantine, the Edifier team expressed concern about the potential for dwindling American media coverage and sought GreenRoom’s counsel on whether it made sense to pause public relations. At a time when many companies were retreating from spending in an effort to insulate themselves from the uncertainty, GreenRoom underscored the risks of halting a consistent earned media program in a market that is a critical sales driver for the brand. Thanks to consistent dialogue with media colleagues, the GreenRoom team advised that the potential for great coverage would be strong for Edifier. With tech and lifestyle journalists continuing to publish content while working remotely and Edifier’s product attributes being uniquely suited for budget-conscious consumers confined to their homes, the opportunity to make an impact was significant.

Focusing on the Edifier brand’s high-quality tech, diverse product suite with options for all users, and affordable price points, GreenRoom crafted a series of outreach strategies that highlighted the brand’s relevance to new consumer needs that arose in the midst of a pandemic. To keep coverage momentum flowing, the GreenRoom team coordinated sample fulfillment and shipping that entailed receiving product delivered to staff homes and taking samples directly to shipping service centers on a regular basis to ensure that media and social influencers would receive everything they needed in a timely manner. This process prevented Edifier’s coverage from lagging due to pandemic-related international shipping delays that many global companies experienced.

The results were successful months of coverage that exceeded the brand’s expectations and prior months’ deliverables. Week after week of noteworthy product reviews and media recommendations in national and regional marquee tech and consumer lifestyles outlets, spanning across print, digital, and social platforms like YouTube, helped the brand gain notoriety as a reliable provider of affordable, top-quality work and school at home audio devices. An incredible 155 pieces of media coverage were delivered to the Edifier team by GreenRoom between March and May 2020.

Recently, the brand shared details from its 2019 Fiscal Report showing strong net gains in spite of what had been a rocky year and fourth quarter for many companies. The Edifier team expressed their excitement in seeing that they are on target to continue to outperform expectations for 2020, unhindered by a global pandemic, thanks in part to GreenRoom’s trusted counsel, attentive media listening, and willingness to go above and beyond for impactful results.

 

GreenRoom Recognized by the 2020 Bulldog PR Awards in Two Categories

GreenRoom is thrilled to announce winning two awards in the 2020 Bulldog PR Awards! The wins were in the prestigious and competitive categories of Best Issue/Cause Advocacy Campaign and Best Visual Storytelling Campaign. The work is representative of both sides of our house with the Issue/Cause Advocacy Campaign being awarded for the agency’s passionate dedication to the Airthings mission of educating and quantifying indoor air quality measurement through a strong and multi-faceted PR program.

The visual storytelling campaign represents a tremendous victory for our digital department’s work on leading audio brand CLEER’s “Own the Moment” initiative that was a bi-coastal effort with a compelling storyline that matched stunning visuals with real people. You can read more about our efforts in the recent case study.

The Bulldog Awards have long been a marker of the industry’s brightest PR campaigns and most effective corporate communications. It’s also the only PR awards program that is judged exclusively by journalists, lending further credence to the winner’s efficacy in compelling storytelling.

Earning these two awards comes on the heels of a banner year for GreenRoom in industry accolades. Earlier in the year, the agency was recognized as a finalist for four major industry awards, setting an all-time record! GreenRoom was a finalist for three In2 Sabre Awards and one PR Week Award, which was a true testament to the agency’s relentless pursuit of innovative campaigns and exceedingly strong media relations.

Wall Street Journal profile: How Covid-19 Is Changing the Language in Emails

The balancing act of being sensitive to the current situation while not being tone deaf is one we are all trying to steady. Now more than ever, being able to ‘read the room’ is crucial when communicating to colleagues, the media and clients. While some recipients do not want emails tailored around COVID, others require you to be mindful of the circumstance and want you to be forthright with them.

“People want the truth and they want it as concisely as possible. The tolerance for any sort of fluff is at a minimum,” shared our CEO, Brian Metcalf, in an article in the Wall Street Journal on communicating during a pandemic. Metcalf has instructed employees to keep messages short and sweet and to get to the point without the unnecessary details.

Our agency has shifted away from using business jargon to a more compassionate and sympathetic tone when communicating to the public. The usual sign-off has been replaced with a note acknowledging safety and health and asking questions when necessary on how we can help.

Internally, conference room chitchat and office patter are now Slack messages and video calls. To keep morale high and lighten the mood, our agency enjoys sharing photos of working from home setups with four-legged pals and sharing weekend quarantine stories. In a time without a lot of interpersonal communication, that screen-to-screen connection humanizes things and brings back a taste of normalcy.

 

Extreme Virtual Makeover: Zoom Video Conference Edition

With so many companies going having to go virtual basically overnight, we all witnessed Zoom’s popularity skyrocket along with the scrutiny that newfound ubiquity brought.The video conferencing platform added the virtual video background feature they announced back in late January. The feature allows users to play looping videos behind them while on a call, which make for dynamic displays or in some cases, top-tier trolling…

2020 Instagram Algorithm for Dummies

When Instagram moved away from a chronological feed format, it raised a lot of questions. Why isn’t my content being shown to more of my followers? Why did my engagement rate drop so suddenly, yet my follower base is steadily increasing? Are hashtags still effective? Does the algorithm honor videos over photos?

 

Luckily, Instagram set the record straight in January of 2020 on their controversial algorithm and below are the key takeaways:

  • Comments, likes, shares + views impact feed ranking
  • Photos & videos are considered equal
  • Fake interactions (bots or bought engagement) DO NOT count
  • User trends affect the algorithm daily (even minute by minute!)
  • All comment lengths count as engagement (commenting 1 emoji vs. commenting 2 paragraphs = equal)
  • All account types (brand/business, personal, verified account) are equal
  • The first 30 minutes after you post does not determine feed ranking

 

Here are some tips to help you beat the algorithm in 2020:

  1. Create a content calendar AND engagement calendar…and post consistently
    • Every good social media team knows that planning ahead with a monthly content calendar is essential. Since the algorithm honors engagement and post frequency above all in 2020, we recommend creating a separate calendar that focuses solely on engagement tactics (Instagram Story polls & quizzes, keyword search and response themes, giveaways/incentives, etc.) and post CONSISTENTLY. This can become a lot of work, therefore we also recommend forming a specific “engagement squad” dedicated to only getting those comments, likes, reshares and views!
    • NOTE: The algorithm will memorize your frequency, so when you forget to post at the expected time, you will be “punished” with less engagement.
  1. Manage your time wisely
    • Use the Instagram Insights tool to determine when to post. The algorithm honors content that gets people to stay on their app longer, therefore you need to understand what time your followers are online/ when they are most active and post accordingly!
  1. Use hashtags correctly
    • Yes, hashtags are still a powerful tool for creating viral content! If you are serious about increasing the engagement on your account, we recommend using up to 30 relevant hashtags (tuck them away in the comments section!). If you feel this is too spammy for your brand, still try to aim for at least 3-11 hashtags. A combination of branded, product and community hashtags creates the perfect environment for engagement (and increases your chances on getting your posts onto the Instagram Explore page!)
  2. Own your brand look & feel
    • As mentioned previously, Instagram honors the accounts that get people to stay on their app for long periods of time. Having a visually stunning feed will encourage new followers to go onto your feed, like multiple images and endlessly scroll. We recommend color grading your feed as this will get your followers to recognize and remember your work.

 

Click HERE to learn more about how our team of digital experts can help you grow your social media presence in 2020!

 

GreenRoom Recognized As A Finalist for Four Major Industry Awards

GreenRoom is thrilled to announce it has been named a finalist for an agency record-setting three In2 Sabre Awards, and one PR Week Award. The Sabre Awards honor the most creative and impactful campaigns in the industry while the PR Week Awards highly outstanding agencies in the field. To be considered for both is a true testament to the agency’s relentless pursuit of innovative campaigns and exceedingly strong media relations.

“It’s a very proud year for us,” said Brian Metcalf, chief executive officer, GreenRoom. “This team has pushed the boundaries for our brands and it’s beyond thrilling to be recognized for our efforts on behalf of the brands that get us excited to come to work each day.”

“So many people still don’t equate Miami as a place of PR and digital innovation, so we’re even more thrilled to have this sort of recognition,” said Ben Burroughs, president, GreenRoom. “We’re showing our brands that we’re on par with any agency based in New York or Los Angeles by hiring great people and never getting complacent in our programs.”

GreenRoom is a finalist in the following In2 Sabre Award categories:

  • Best in Digital/Print Consumer Media (Earned)
    • Breathing Easy with Airthings: The agency executed a robust program centered around education on the dangers of radon exposure and the unique technology offerings with leading indoor air quality measurement company, Airthings. The program included a number of interviews, robust product validation in earned media and key national broadcast pieces with a former Olympian.
  • Best Use of Social Networks
  • Micro Marketing
    • CLEER Owns Its Moment: The wild success of the campaign was only made more impactful as it was completed on a very modest budget as defined by the submission parameters.

GreenRoom is a finalist for the PR Week Awards as well:

  • Outstanding Boutique Agency: From the agency’s growth to impressive programs and strong company culture, GreenRoom was recognized with only four other agencies to take home the top honor in the category.

Winners will be announced in the late winter and early spring timeframe in Chicago and New York, respectively.

About GreenRoom

We’re master storytellers with the passion and skillset to move the needle for the world’s most innovative consumer brands. Our award-winning public relations and digital teams work with a vast range of companies that all share a common mission: create innovations and deliver them to your audience. A results-driven, comprehensive strategy is the hallmark of everything we do here at GreenRoom

Our teams work collaboratively to ensure symbiosis of strategy, execution and key learnings. The result is a cohesive program that refines and expands the reach of your brand to help to drive success across all platforms. Whether it’s real-time counsel on top-tier earned media coverage or competitor and industry trends or the latest insights from analytics research, the teams stay in lockstep to advance your brand in the eyes of the media and in reaching consumers.

 

 

5 Strategies to Maximize Earned Media for your Brand in 2020

We’re only just a few weeks into 2020, but it’s already shaping up to be a banner year for earned media! It’s never been more useful in so many facets of marketing, and we’re seeing the added boon of increasingly positive ripple effects for sales.

Can you confidently say your brand is fully maximizing earned media? Many are still stuck in the early 2000s, so we’ve compiled a quick checklist that’s proven quite useful for our brands.

• Merchandising earned media within your owned properties: Does your website have an updated press room that’s more than just flat logos? Try a more fully designed page with a pull quote and a link back to the full piece so visitors can learn what the media is saying!

• Putting a link on your social channels is the bare minimum! Are you tagging the writer and outlet in the post for further amplification? Try using the piece in an ad that’s targeted to your core demographic. The content is public, and you can get creative with how you use it!

• Does your sales team understand the content from earned media? Too often, we’ve seen the coverage generated on behalf of brand travel to the marketing and communications team, and wither in a presentation or in an inbox. Arming them with the knowledge of a stellar review only helps them to communicate with retailers, other dealers or prospective customers.

• All about Amazon: Do you understand the affiliate relationships many outlets now have with Amazon? In many cases, choosing outlets based on this can result in your earned media being pulled into the product pages and giving additional validity to your listing!

• Have you talked to your PR team about the impacts of earned media? Depending on the level of insight you’re able to provide to your team, it’s critical they understand what is moving the needle and what isn’t. We’ve been surprised at times from analyzing the performance of earned media and the ensuing effects on sales and referral traffic.

As the media landscape consistently shifts and buying habits are ever-evolving, it’s critical to stay on top of all of the ways earned media can lift your brand’s visibility, but also your sales figures!

If you want more information about how GreenRoom can help you leverage your Earned Media and grow your business in 2020 click HERE!

Get Recognized

Whether you’re a new product innovator, industry disruptor offering a revitalized spin on a classic or a legacy consumer product with more than a century of success, nearly all brands have a compelling story to tell. From what’s often a matter of unearthing the gems or strategic positioning, PR teams are trained to work with brands to find their story, uncover the innovation and elevate the product, service or ethos to the forefront. Part of this discovery phase and deep dive into the brand lends itself to creating deeper and much more meaningful story arcs for the media. It also arms PR teams with the content and creativity needed for high-profile industry accolades and award submissions. A pivotal element of all robust PR programs and company profiles, relevant industry awards should remain consistently top-of-mind for brands and the teams representing them

Awards are far more than figures collecting dust on an office shelf or plaques lining the walls on the way to the breakroom. Not only do industry awards assist in garnering a significant amount of visibility for your brand and industry-relevant exposure, it also works to attract new customers, appeal to new retail partners, attract investors and give you an edge over competitors. Mapping out industry-specific awards relevant to your product category or service is an ongoing initiative for PR teams, encompassing a significant amount of planning and organization throughout the calendar year.

With the hustle and bustle of seasonal gift guide planning, major retail events, including Black Friday, Cyber Week and the holiday rush of product fulfillment and year-end planning, some of the most important awards can be overlooked. This is especially important for our consumer innovations and CE/tech partners leading into the holiday season. Not only is holiday one of the most important sales periods for consumer goods, it’s also when brands are preparing for the much-anticipated, annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. What’s essentially the Super Bowl, World Cup and Olympics wrapped up in one tradeshow marks one of the most important activations for tech brands of the year. While brands are wrapped up in finalizing booth designs, booking travel and mapping out essential retail meetings and tradeshow networking events, PR teams are gearing up for award season and all things CES to ensure our brands are ahead of the curve for making a major splash at the show. Planning for this should happen far in advance of the fall season, including working towards early bird submissions which can often mean discounted rates and more. This is not a principle that only applies to all things CES as most awards typically have a brief window for submissions that come at a heavily discounted rate prior to the formal deadline.

In addition to the important CES awards (also listed below), here’s a few more industry-related opportunities for brands and their PR teams to consider throughout the year:
• Fast Company, Innovation by Design Awards
• Red Dot Design Awards
• CES Innovation Awards
• TIME Best Innovations
• TWICE Picks Awards
• Last Gadget Standing (CES award)
• Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Has your team applied?

Partnering for Success: Why Hire an Agency if You Have an Internal Team

With summer in full swing, many in-house teams are laser-focused on seasonal trade shows, industry events and warm-weather marketing opportunities. This makes perfect sense, but raises an important question; why are their agencies focused on a different season?

At this time of year, as temperatures rise and heating systems become a distant memory, we in the agency world are talking about an equally distant concept — Holiday. That may seem premature on first blush, but agencies often serve as an essential complement to in-house marketing efforts.

This means that brands working with agency support have a two-fold advantage: an in-house team managing day-to-day execution of contemporary tasks while their agency partners develop future opportunities in tandem with the moment. This two-pronged approach is just one of the many reasons working with an agency can be so beneficial.

 

Additional Opportunities

When it comes to Holiday, there’s a distinctly different lifecycle to media coverage opportunities. Here at GreenRoom, we’ve been talking with editors and journalists about Holiday Gift Guides and annual award submissions as far back as our Spring Media Tour — and we’re seeing traction despite being months away from the colder weather. We’ve helped a number of new clients adjust strategy on the fly and add items to their calendar — secure in the knowledge that they now have the right resources to address them.

Our team-based approach to media outreach drives impactful coverage year around, not just during Holiday. We’re constantly cross-pitching, which means your brand is given more opportunities to gain media attention via roundups, briefings, and trend pieces.

This happens on the digital front as well. Marketing teams are often overflowing with work, so they’re unable to start tackling holiday campaigns until much later in the year, when options for partnering on large-scale initiatives are more limited. An agency partner keeps the ball rolling, and by the time fall comes around, Holiday campaigns are already in full development.

As on the media side of the house, our digital seasonal strategy isn’t limited to just holiday. Our team has spent the summer dressing models in sweaters and tailgate football gear, prepping for creative content that will publish in fall and winter.

Agencies can help in influencer negotiation and balancing seasonal initiatives

Industry Insight

Working with a number of clients facing the same challenges puts an agency in the ideal position to inform timing, budget, and strategy on both the media and digital marketing fronts. While we’ll constantly analyze the performance of your brand’s initiatives towards established goals, we’ll also compare this progress to the results we’re seeing from other clients. Because of this, you gain a greater depth analysis. If something needs to be changed, we can borrow learnings from other clients, and implement a strategy that we already know to be successful.

This is especially important on the digital front, where platform algorithms constantly change. If you’re working with just one brand, it may take months to analyze a trend that an agency will quickly see appearing across multiple clients. This means that clients partnered with an agency can better take advantage of platform updates, adjusting strategy to meet the needs of today.

On the PR front, agencies are the first to know when a publication is changing direction or when a new reporter is hired for a beat. This up-to-the-minute information creates efficiencies in media outreach and saves time and effort.

 

Negotiation

Negotiating pricing is another key area in which agencies pay dividends for their brand partners. Third-party vendors and influencers know that agencies have a broader client reach, so agencies can often negotiate better rates and find deals more regularly than a single in-house team.

Negotiation doesn’t just happen on the outside — sometimes internal marketing teams need additional resources to get senior management on board with a new initiative. This is also the time of year when marketing teams are pointing towards budget discussions that will impact the year to follow. We can help bolster the case for additional dollars that could mean the difference between running in place or speeding ahead. An agency can be that reliable outside voice, often delivering the essential push when a VP needs to ok a budget.

Agencies can provide in-house marketing teams with in-depth industry analysis.

When Is the Right Time to Hire an Agency?

We know that even the most skilled of internal teams can benefit from additional resources for seasonal initiatives, product launches and award nominations, among other milestones taking place in the back half of the year.

More often than not, we find that the best answer to the question “When?” is: right now. (Yesterday: no longer an option!)