what we think

We don’t think of ourselves as know-it-alls, but we do like sharing our thoughts, experiences and POV from time-to-time. We are in continual learning mode and here is what we think, when we think it.

Celebrate the Super Mom

Karen Rafeedie Story WriterAs you all should know, today is International Women’s Day. And as I thought about all of the great women that have made this world what it is today, my mind kept going to my wife and how she describes herself on her LinkedIn Profile.
Karen Rafeedie
Creative Director | Writer | Super Mom


We’re fortunate to live in a world today that allows women like my wife to have a choice to pursue a career and be fulfilled professionally, and at the same time have the ability to be the Super Mom that she absolutely is.  My boys and I are truly blessed to have her.


Karen has been fortunate to be employed for ten years for a woman-owned business, Remedy. The leaders of Remedy are Super Moms in their own right. And it’s been amazing seeing Karen keep growing at Remedy while at the same time developing into the incredible mother that she is, doing the things that great mothers do.


So as this day winds down, take a moment and think of a woman or two you can celebrate. Mine was pretty close to home, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

How to be innovative?

How to be innovative?


Marketing Innovators Luncheon Seminar
The Big Marketing Idea is Alive and Well in Chicago
As the Chicago Innovation Awards demonstrate year in and year out, Chicagoans take a backseat to nobody when i…

You need to be curious, not satisfied with the status quo, be a problem solver, and not really be a great manager! Great “one question” and answer from the Chicago Business Marketing Association.

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.