Retainer is a Dirty Word

PR Social Media ActivityA rant. I apologize in advance.


I hate the word retainer. I think the word is used as an excuse when people are scared to spend on consistent communications activity – especially with PR and social media activity.


The word “retainer” should only be used when you pay someone to be “on call” for you at a moment’s notice. They may not do a darn thing in any given month, but when you call, they respond fast. Like in the legal profession. It makes sense to have your law firm “on retainer.” I think.


In PR and social media, as an example, a best practice is to pay a monthly fee for activity – not a “retainer.” The only way you are successful in the long term with PR and social media is when you are consistent over time. When you decide what “over time” means – three months, six months, 12 months…etc. – you then divide the total fee by number of months and you have a monthly fee. Not a retainer – but a monthly fee for consistent communications activity. Which, over time, will pay for itself.


So let’s stop using the word retainer. It’s a dirty word that stops progress.


Whew! I feel better now. Thanks.

Great Reads You May Have Missed in 2011

As the New Year begins many professionals revisit their bookshelves with the intention of finally starting that popular industry-changing bestseller that was purchased with good intentions 6 months ago (you know who you are). Therefore, it’s no surprise that setting a goal to read more often is one of the most popular resolutions made this time of year. But can a simple promise to yourself help get you ahead in the workplace? Our team at Tell Your Story believes so.   In our field we’re used staying up-to-date on industry trends through social media avenues like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Reader. However, sitting down to read an entire book on a particular topic is a much different experience. Books have the ability to alter the way we see our industry and educate us in a way we haven’t experienced since the last time we were in a classroom.   Here’s a list of books...

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We Love Holiday Letters!

Social PR HolidaysWe wish we received more holiday letters. Who wouldn’t? We love them. That’s why we put our own letter together highlighting how far we’ve come in the past year.Back in December 2010, we first incorporated Tell Your Story Brand Communications Inc. with a purpose to “make things happen for people so they can be happier and more successful.”


Too lofty of a purpose for a tiny, little agency? We don’t think so.


We’ve been inspired by “purpose-driven branding” thinking from Eduardo Conrado at rel=”nofollow”Motorola Solutions and Roy Spence, author of It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. We saw them both speak in May at the National Business Marketing Association Conference in Chicago. If you ever get the chance, hear them speak.


We believe that thinking about your own personal purpose and the purpose of your business leads to inspiring work that really helps people grow professionally and personally. And we’ve put that thinking to action for several clients this year.


For Daymarck, a medical coding company in the home care industry, we help them communicate how they want to improve healthcare in this country by enhancing home care – one medical code at a time. We attended two of their trade shows in July in San Diego and in October in Vegas. We are an integral part of their team spreading the word and helping them grow.


For transportation company OnRamp Transportation Services and its service company Equinox, we developed emotionally-relevant communications (visual and verbal) communicating how they exist to help independent, hard-working truckers succeed in the rough world of driving a truck. We traveled with them to Dallas in August (Great American Trucking Show), to Ohio in July and to Indianapolis in September helping them share their story to the industry.


Social PR Manager

For drywall and plaster installer, Trinity Drywall, we hit on a key attribute they posses that is valued above all else by their customer, the general contractor. We helped them emotionally talk about how they help contractors “push the job” by eliminating “obstacles” that are ever-present on a job site. We traveled to their location in Fort Worth in February to meet with executives and nail down their messaging to the marketplace.


For DuPage Medical Group, a Chicago area physician’s group, who is looking to attract the best and brightest doctors from across the country to practice there, we developed an independent-minded and pointed advertisement appealing to the traits and wants/needs of this target audience. Didn’t have to travel far for that one.


For ifbyphone, a short cab ride away from our downtown Chicago offices, we conducted a social media audit in November and gave recommendations on how they can spread the word of their technology and point-of-view through various traditional PR and social media channels more effectively.


And in the pipeline for 2012 (cross your fingers for us) is a well-known career site and service, a major office equipment provider, a Chicago-based novelty candy company and many more.


As we continue our story into 2012 and beyond, we’ll always try to stay true to our purpose of making things happen so we can all be happier and more successful. If you are ready for a tiny little agency with a big purpose, give us a ring.


Please have a very Merry Christmas and wonderful Holiday Season and New Year.


The Tell Your Story Team


P.S. Enjoy this video of holiday lights taken in a suburb of Chicago in Wilmette, IL. As George’s son states, “It’s amazing!”


Onramp Ad CampaignA quick thought on purpose during the holidays.As we celebrate the holiday season,we often reflect back on the year and develop plans for the future. We think about what we have accomplished with our lives both from a personal and professional perspective. Often we think of our own purpose in life and how we may be able to find true meaning for what we do every day. This holiday season, we hope you take time to reflect upon your purpose and if what you are doing both professionally and personally is helping you achieve your goals.


Now back to marketing.


Thinking about purpose for ourselves and our clients has been something Tell Your Story has been doing every day this year, and are looking to expand that even more in 2012. Getting to an organization’s core purpose makes marketing communications more compelling to our target audiences. Our purpose, if articulated correctly, can make a connection with our audience that is powerful, compelling and successful.


In June we had the privilege of attending the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference where Roy Spence, best-selling author of “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For” and co-founder & chairman of ad agency GSD&M spoke about purpose-based marketing, a philosophy we embrace here at Tell Your Story.


Today, there’s a 5th “P” in marketing aside from product, price, placement and promotion – purpose. This is more than just your mission statement, which is how you’ll actually fulfill your purpose. Roy defined the 5th “P” by saying it’s a, “Definitive statement about the difference you want to make in the world.”


As we develop stories for our clients, we have applied Roy’s philosophy to our client work. As an example, when we were approached by OnRamp Transportation Services, a full-service transportation resource that offers both equipment and business services to independent truckers and transportation carriers, we discovered that their customers wanted to be independent, but did not want to go into the world of independent trucking alone. By identifying the problem facing potential users of OnRamp’s services, we were able to develop a clear and concise purpose to guide their communications strategy.


Purpose: Everything OnRamp does is to help you be more independent, successful and fulfilled within the transportation industry. 


So how are we working to achieve OnRamp’s purpose? In order to launch the company into the marketplace, we created brand awareness and worked to increase leads among independent truckers and small to mid-size carriers through the use of a full integrated campaign with a huge dose of Social PR. Our priorities were to introduce OnRamp to influential trucking and transportation media, develop long-term relationships with key media members and increase general awareness using social media. Results:


  • 142 articles in transportation trade, local and national media (both online and print)
  • These articles equiate to 2,058,847 impressions and advertizing equivalency of $343,915
  • 360+ visits to OnRamp websites from Social PR efforts
  • 1,700+ acts of social media engagement to date (comments, re-tweets, etc.)
  • 172,000+ social media impressions to date
  • 19 YouTube videos with over 1,500 views to date


Onramp Transportation Services
In Roy’s book he goes as far as to say, “When the ashes clear from the economic Armageddon, the only organization left standing will be the ones that actually stand for something. Without a purpose that improves peoples’ lives, and contributes to the greater good, organizations will struggle.”


To learn more about OnRamp Transportation Services click here or follow them on Facebook & Twitter.

Stealing the Highest Form of Flattery?

Marketing Innovators ChicagoIf there is one thing we took away from attending the Business Marketing Association‘s Marketing Innovators Luncheon on October 12th, it’s that original ideas are overrated in the marketing world. The luncheon’s special guest and speaker, Dan Michelson, introduced the controversial idea. Michelson, Chief Marketing Officer at Allscripts, the most utilized electronic health record solutions company in the healthcare arena today, discussed the unnecessary need for originality during his remarks. Instead he suggested marketers should do the reasonable thing – steal from one another. Stealing, a word with such negative connotations, perhaps we’ll meet Dan in the middle and call it ‘borrowing’? No matter the word choice, the advice makes sense. If something is working for someone else, why don’t you do it too if it makes sense for your company, organization or client?


No matter your stance, it’s an undeniable fact that Dan has played a major role in leading Allscripts to the top of the healthcare technology industry, growing the company’s employee pool from 200 to 6,000 workers and increasing revenue to over $1.5 billion. Tell Your Story has been there to watch the company grow as we serve our healthcare industry client, Daymarck, who aims to make medical coding easy and pain-free for home-healthcare professionals.


Intrigued by Dan’s philosophy? Watch this video we ‘stole’ from BMAChicago to hear more from the Allscripts CMO himself.


We want to hear your thoughts. Is there less nobility in following another company’s lead, or is using the ideas of others a smart business tactic? Comment below or tweet us at @tellyourstorybc.


The One Question with Dan Michelson, Allscripts



Six Types of Networkers Everyone’s Met

Types of Social Community NetworkersNote: We originally developed a list of “types of networkers” in 2009 and were inspired to refresh and republish. It served as a great conversation starter at a recent Business Marketing Association Chicago event, and we think it can help people improve who they are as a networker. 


It’s about to be that time of year again when we in the business world reexamine our (now digital) Rolodexes and start thinking about the connections we’ve made over the past year. For some of us that means embarking on an office scavenger hunt to gather up the dozens of business cards we’ve collected over the last 12 months. For others it means finally getting around to connecting with our coworkers on LinkedIn.


We are also going into the holiday portion of the networking season where good cheer and business cards are exchanged liberally. Networking, my friends, both online and face-to-face, is as important as ever.


It’s an undeniable fact that if there is one key to success in the professional environment of the 21st century, it’s networking. So what kind of networker are you? At Tell Your Story we’ve come up with a short list of the different types of networkers we’ve encountered over the years.


The “Feel Good” Networker –

You’re fulfilled both professionally and personally by networking. You love the art of networking and everything about it, but you’d rather describe yourself as a people person than a networker. There’s no place you won’t start a conversation with someone new. In fact, you met your most recent client during a layover in Albuquerque. Your friends no longer bother introducing you at parties – they assume everyone already knows you – and your iPhone takes hours to backup the number of contacts in your address book. You love helping others through networking and making connections that make sense. You’re good at it, and it has helped you and others be more successful.


The “I Have to Network” Networker –

You’re on the hunt for something, whether it be a new job, new business or a new hire, and you’ve decided to turn to networking. You dust off that stack of business cards you bought a few months back and realize you should have opened the package a lot sooner – hind-sight is always 20/20. You spend the next few days, weeks, or months networking like crazy until that new job is secured, then you shove those business cards back into black hole that is your desk drawer and await the next time you need them.


The “I Hate Networking” Networker –

You know who you are. Whenever you see a networking article on your Google Reader feed you sigh deeply. You get it, networking is important, but you’re holding out for the study that proves it’s just a fad. Besides, you can’t figure out where these people find the time to go to after work events and be active in professional organizations without sacrificing a personal life. You show up only to the events you’re obligated to attend and quickly make an exit when the opportunity presents itself. At the end of the day you pack up and head home and that’s the way you like it.


The “Uncomfortable” Networker

You’ve read books, attended seminars and even resorted to infomercial kits about networking. However, there’s a big gap between theory and practice and no matter how much time and money you invest, you just can’t seem to get comfortable doing it. Instead of making that first step you wait for someone to approach you. Many times you’ve found solace in clinging to the “I Hate Networking” Networker while nervously sipping your club soda and checking your watch – and at the end of the night you realize you forgot to ask for his/her card.


The “Obnoxious” Networker –

You go into every interaction with an agenda to make contacts and you’re always armed with business cards. Sometimes you get an inkling that the person you approached doesn’t want to hear your elevator speech, but you keep going. Your friends and coworkers roll their eyes at your tactics, but you know they work – you have successfully established an extensive database of contacts. This holiday season you’re slipping a networking book into the office grab bag and you don’t care who thinks that’s obnoxious.


The “You Should Go Network” Networker –

You’re a distant cousin of the “Feel Good” and “Obnoxious” Networkers. You love networking and have seen its benefits influence your own life. Now you want everyone you know to follow your lead. You instantly shoot emails to your friends and coworkers about networking opportunities and in the past you’ve had to fight off the urge to create a LinkedIn account for your spouse. Some people may call you pushy, but you know that you’re just giving good advice – even if it’s unwanted. “I Hate Networking” knows you’re right, and they probably hate you for it.


Here are some additional types of networkers we’ve heard from you in the past:


  • The “Job Hunter” Networker – Signs up for volunteer committees, then disappears once employed. Contributed by Cindy Droog @cindydroog.
  • The “Connector” Networker – Taking a page out of Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point,” the connector builds bridges by offering up their contacts as resources to others. Contributed by Dick Strassburger @strass.
  • The “Networking Makes Me Feel Dirty” Networker – Feels as if networking is a dirty art perfected by politicians and copied by business professionals for their own gain. Contributed by Karrie Sullivan @shecanmarketing.


What are your thoughts about the category you fit into and what other types of networkers have you found out there?

Tell Your Story Joins Daymarck in Las Vegas

Social Community Professionals


This past week we packed our bags and headed west to support our client Daymarck at the 2011 National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) 30th Annual Meeting and Exposition in Las Vegas. The exposition, which took place from October 1st through the 5th, is the nation’s largest trade association representing the interests of home care professionals.


We spent the week speaking with home health care professionals from across the country about the challenges they face in their industry and how Daymarck can help. Founded in 2007, by Nick Dobrzelecki, Daymarck is a remote medical coding company that aims to make the coding process as pain-free as possible for home health agencies. In a nutshell, Daymarck takes care of the coding and paperwork so that home health care workers can focus on what really matters – patient care. Intrigued? Watch the video we created for Daymarck for more information on how it all works.


In addition to attending, Tell Your Story’s efforts for the NAHC Conference included:


  • Creating Daymarck’s booth and all marketing collateral in-booth
  • Conducting media relations, meeting with industry reporters to secure Daymarck coverage in the news
  • Tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging before, after and during the show, including capturing photos and videos from the show floor
  • Developing press releases about Daymarck news
  • Creating a survey on an industry hot topic which resulted in hundreds of responses
  • Developing promotions and giveaways to drive traffic and engagement
  • Sending e-blasts about NAHC activities and Daymarck news
  • Creating a direct mail piece driving traffic to the booth
  • Supporting sales efforts with message development for sales team, follow up strategy and overall direction


This is just some of the latest work we’ve done for Daymarck. We’ve helped grow this startup over the past 2.5 years during which we developed and executed a full integrated marketing communications plan to build their brand in the home care industry, drive leads and support sales. We are true partners in their effort to improve the home health industry one code at a time.


Want to see more of our work on behalf of Daymarck? Follow Daymarck on Twitter and Facebook.