On Wednesday, Sept. 10, we joined our client, the InterContinental Milwaukee, in celebrating the fifth anniversary of their Pink Rooms – two special guest rooms designed to build awareness, raise funds, offer support and foster hope for those fighting breast cancer.

Decorative cake to celebrate the anniversary

Decorative cake to celebrate the anniversary

For every room booked, $25 is donated to ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, a Milwaukee-based organization whose mission is to provide free, personalized information and one-on-one support to people affected by breast cancer.

Pink Room bed on display in lobby

Pink Room bed on display in lobby

The special evening started with a cocktail hour where guests enjoyed complimentary cake, appetizers, special pink-themed cocktails and temporary pink hair painting from WELL Spa + Salon.

WELL Spa + Salon painting guests' hair pink

WELL Spa + Salon painting guests’ hair pink

Tim Smith, general manager of InterContinental Milwaukee, then presented ABCD with a check for $12,675 – proceeds from the past year’s overnight stays in the Pink Rooms – which brings the total donated over the past five years to nearly $50,000.

Tim Smith presenting check for ABCD

Tim Smith presenting check for ABCD

Guests were also able to view photographer John Grant’s new exhibit, The Pink Balloon Project, at Gallerie M. Featuring patients and survivors of those affected by breast cancer, the exhibit was a beautiful source of inspiration for everyone who attended.

John Grant's Gallerie M Exhibit

John Grant’s Gallerie M Exhibit

The celebration ended with tours of the newly remodeled rooms, which include updated upholstery, wall coverings, window treatments and accessories.

One of the renovated Pink Rooms

One of the renovated Pink Rooms

Simply, there is no better place to say sweet dreams!

September 12, 2014 · Posted by in art, event, pr  

IKEA Hackers

If your brand is lucky enough to have a rabid fan base of people who love your products and actually help promote them, it may be in your best interest to not shut them down. In fact, you might look for ways to support them and work together to promote your brand.

IKEA, known for affordable and quirky furniture you assemble yourself, is going after IKEA Hackers, which is a fun site that shows you alternative ways to use IKEA products for various things.

From the perspective of IKEA’s lawyers, you can certainly see why a site called IKEA Hackers that suggests alternate uses for your products could cause a number of issues for your brand, including safety and trademark infringement, but it’s worth noting that IKEA waited eight years to do anything about the site. (Note: It may have something to do with ads recently appearing on the site, since there is now a commercial interest.)

From the perspective of IKEA’s brand managers, finding a way to allow IKEA Hackers to continue, and perhaps assisting it making it happen, would be a good thing. From a PR perspective, IKEA is a taking a beating right now from people who like the brand, but are upset about the bullying from a large corporation targeted towards one person running a web site for fun. (And yes, while there may be some ads on the site, they probably aren’t helping the owner of the site rake in huge piles of cash.)

One comment I’ve read a few times suggests that “IKEA doesn’t get how the Internet works” which isn’t exactly true, but it gives you an idea of the perspective of the average IKEA customer and Internet user, that ideas are to be shared, and any mention of a brand is a good thing.

There’s a lot of middle ground of course, but I tend to believe that if you’ve got people who love your brand and promote it (in a positive way) you should do what you can to help them be champions, not treat them like villains.

June 17, 2014 · Posted by in pr  

Like many of you, I woke up this morning and turned on the TV to see what looked like a low-budget action movie being shown on my local news station. Swat teams everywhere, the focus was on a white home. Officers had guns aimed at the house and were shuffling residents down the stairs. A possible apprehension was taking place right before my eyes, and I was shockingly close to the action. I couldn’t believe it was happening in real life and in real time.

The shot switched from the live view to a photo that had been Tweeted by a resident (@samanthae0) in lockdown near the scene. (I still can’t get over the fact that she took the time to add a filter.)

The media coverage this morning of the ‘Boston Bombings Manhunt’ was unlike any I have ever seen. Between the proximity of the cameras to the scene and the images from social media sites, I felt as if I were there.

Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing news media using content from social media outlets more and more. Every other day I see a dancing dog from YouTube on my local station. But it’s being used for actual news, too. Earlier this week, we saw that Texas fertilizer plant explode before our eyes via a YouTube video.

While social media can serve as an amazing tool for providing instantaneous news and reports, it can also act as an impactful source to perpetuate false information, like we saw with some of the early reporting on the Boston suspects. Now, I’m not knocking social media. I just want to point out that because it is often used as a source for traditional media, we need to make sure the correct messages are going out.

Earlier this week, Cedar wrote a post that gave companies some social media tips to follow when a big national tragedy occurs. But what if a crisis arises—be it large or small—that directly relates to your company? How do you control the messages that might eventually end up in the news media via social media? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1)      Everyone’s a reporter. Social media makes anyone on the street a source. Always watch who you and your employees are talking to and what you say.

2)     Monitor social media. Of course, as a brand you should always be monitoring social media to learn what the public is saying about you. But in a crisis situation, this is especially important. You need to be able to address inaccurate information in a timely manner to help set the record straight.

3)    Prepare statements. In any crisis, one of the first things you should do is prepare an official statement and get that out to all of your company’s representatives. Anyone who interacts with the public should know exactly what to say to keep your messaging accurate and consistent.

4)    Create a social media policy. It goes without saying that having a solid social media policy in place is one of the best ways to ensure others on social media are hearing your message. (Refer back to Cedar’s post for more on this.)

As the line between traditional media and social media continues to get thinner and thinner, be sure the right messages are getting out to everyone, be it news reporter or man on the street.

(See also, a previous blog post I wrote on crisis communications.)

April 19, 2013 · Posted by in pr, social media  

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of visiting Washington, DC, to celebrate a really great project we’ve worked on for the past couple years with our client, InterContinental Milwaukee. The hotel was named a finalist in PR News’ Corporate Social Responsibility awards in the category of Corporate-Community Partnership for its Pink Room, a program in which a portion of the proceeds from each guest’s stay in one of the pink-clad rooms is donated to a local breast cancer support organization, ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis.

The awards luncheon took place at the National Press Club, just about two blocks from the White House and one of the most famous conference facilities in the country, known for hosting global leaders in government, politics, and business.

While the Pink Room didn’t come out on top in its category, it received an honorable mention award—which truly is an honor when listed among companies like Toys R Us (category winner), Craftsman, and WWE.

Prior to the awards luncheon, I participated in the PR News’ PR Writing Workshop led by Michael Long, Director of Writing at Georgetown University. During the three-hour class, we got back to the basics of good PR writing. After you’ve been in the industry awhile, you start to get swayed by what clients want (even though they might not have any experience in PR) and can sometimes lose sight of how things should actually be done to get results. The class was a great refresher course, reminding me of simple principles that can be forgotten in the hustle of the workday. Some examples:

  • Think before you write
  • Keep your goal in mind
  • One sentence equals one idea
  • Adopt the perspective of others

Sunday afternoon, I also had the opportunity to do some exploring. The weather was beautiful as I took in the sites.



A big congratulations to the Pink Room team and everyone who has worked to make the program a success! I’m honored to be a part of it.

February 14, 2013 · Posted by in event, pr  

When Asterisks Attack

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If you’re a huge sports fan (read: attractive, male athlete fan) like myself, you’ve probably heard about the new Braun/Rodgers restaurant set to open in Brookfield in June. The original name for the restaurant was launched as 8*twelve, a play on their two numbers. However, it was announced yesterday the name has changed to 8-twelve.

According to Fox 6, the asterisk was removed and replaced with a dash in an effort to avoid any negativity that might be associated with something that looks like an asterisk, given Braun’s hectic off-season.

Umm, eek! Although I personally find the asterisk situation pretty hilarious, I likely wouldn’t if I was associated with the brand. I’m not sure what would have been worse, leaving the asterisk in to be potentially noticed by not that many people, or taking it out and having the media broadcast why the name had changed. The main takeaway here is to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before publicly launching your new brand.

(Side note: this story totally brought to mind my brother-in-law, whom we call “Asterisk” when playing board games, given his inclination to win using questionable tactics.)

May 18, 2012 · Posted by in branding, pr  

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