How We Built an Addy Award-Winning Campaign for Swansons Nursery

It was a big moment for Curator last week, when we took home an Addy Award for our work with Swansons Nursery on our Grow With Us campaign.

We’re proud of all our awards, as well as our campaigns that aren’t officially recognized. This one was special, though, because it perfectly exemplified our belief of how earned and paid media should interact: with earned at the center of the marketing mix.

The backbone of any good marketing campaign is trust, and these days, it’s not enough to just say things that sound trustworthy. Social media has unlocked the door that used to keep people and brands from having two-way conversations. Now that the door’s open, the need to provide immediate value is greater than ever.

When we designed Grow With Us, we started with the thought of “how can we be helpful?” That was the earned media aspect of the campaign—to extend Swansons’ signature customer service to the world via social media. Advertising was the jet fuel that allowed the campaign to scale, but the core earned strategy is what made a connection with people, and ultimately made it successful.

It was so satisfying to see Grow With Us recognized. We’re already back at work bringing the kind of thinking that made it successful to Swansons and the rest of our clients. We’ll be back here to share some of it with you soon.

My Favorite Photos from Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto

Earlier this month I wrapped up my last press trip for the year to Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto. If you haven't yet heard of the Islands of Loreto, check out my previous post on the top 10 reasons to love this place. It really is a hidden gem - something so special it's hard to describe in words. Luckily, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why I'm sharing my favorite personal shots from this year's press trips for you to enjoy!

E-mail me at noelle.ibrahim@curatorpr.com if you want to learn more!

Before You Put Your Product In An Influencer’s Hands, Make Sure It Kicks Ass

If you were watching CNN on Election Night last week, you may have caught this embarrassing flub:

There was the Surface, one of Microsoft’s biggest consumer products of the last few years, reduced to a kickstand for its chief competitor, Apple’s iPad. (The fact that Microsoft mocked the iPad’s lack of a kickstand in one of its ads for the Surface makes things even worse.)

I don’t know if those Surfaces were there via any sort of corporate sponsorship arrangement. If they were—shit; and if they weren’t, that still sucks.

Either way, it offers a cautionary tale for marketers who are looking to influencers to help promote a product: Before you put that product out there, you’d better make sure it’s damn good. Because while being outright ridiculed or ignored is bad in their own rights, being reduced to a prop for the competition may be even worse.   

Do More Than Spell My Name Correctly

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There's an old saying in PR, "there is no such thing as bad PR, just spell my name correctly"  I disagree.  I've seen tons of people commenting on the #chevyguy hashtag about how it was great for Chevy and touting the number of impressions they received — much more than they would have otherwise.  They did.  And the argument is nonsense.

First, I feel for Rikk Wilde.  Live TV is hard.  In his case, he knew he was being shoehorned into a situation that wasn't natural.  All anyone in that locker room cared about—and everyone watching at home—was the euphoria of winning the World Series.  The joy of watching a group of people celebrate attaining a shared goal is awesome.  To attempt to deliver a bunch of talking points about a truck in that situation was silly to start with.  It was the equivalent of going to a friend's cocktail party and when the room reaches a crescendo when everyone is enjoying the same story, and interrupting to change the subject and talk about the features of a product at your work.  He was doomed even if he was an elegant speaker. 

The fact that he wasn't able to deliver the talking points about the truck's benefit was not the biggest mistake.  The fact that Chevy even attempted to try was.  There are far more effective ways they could demonstrate their support of Major League Baseball — spending the same amount of money.  Engaging in a natural way that reaches people at a place when the message matters to them would be a good start.

I'm not a believer in "all PR is good PR."  If people are joking about your brand… they're laughing at you, not with you.  Chevy did the right thing this morning by jumping into the conversation and having some fun with the hashtag and flubbed line.  It was the best of a bad situation.  But that spike in impressions isn't going to sell a truck.  In fact, it's not even going to get someone to think about buying a truck.  It's getting people to laugh at a meme — one they will forget about by tomorrow.

I've talked about this in a previous blog post.  Disruption isn't the thing in marketing.  #chevyguy was disruptive.  Figuring how to create a program that would allow that potential Chevy truck purchaser to interact with the brand at his or her pace, in a way that is real, that truly provided information, or help, or engagement, is the thing.

Fall Trends Hit the Runway in San Diego

Last week marked the official arrival of fall, and that of course means it’s time for a wardrobe makeover! It’s finally cooling down a (teeny) bit in SoCal, so it was only fitting that Curator client Fashion Valley, San Diego’s premier retail shopping destination, marked the stylish arrival of the season with its annual Fall Fashion in the Valley runway shows.

Fall fashion took center stage at Fashion Valley, with a showcase of the latest trends from retailers like AllSaints, Halston Heritage, HUGO by Hugo Boss, Joe's Jeans, Scotch & Soda, Ted Baker, and more.

Check out my Top 3 personal favorite trends from the event’s two runway shows below:

Capes  (C. Wonder)

The cape is the new statement piece for fall, perfect over a holiday dress to add a bit of polish to your evening wear, or even with jeans to add some class to a more casual look. This one from C. Wonder is adorable with the polka dot silk shirt.

Leather (AllSaints)

Leather accents are back this season, and can be seen in everything from leather skirts, boots, jackets and even jean details, including these looks from AllSaints. This season, colored leather is a new take on this classic fall staple too.

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Rockin’ Red (Halston Heritage)

Red in all hues is a great statement color for the season, especially when worn head-to-toe. This evening-inspired look (perfect for a formal gala or holiday party) from Halston Heritage lit up the runway last week.

In between the runway shows, attendees got an up-close demo of ArcoYoga, presented by the newly opened lululemon athletica store at Fashion Valley. If you haven’t heard of AcroYoga, prepare to be impressed! It’s a blend of yoga, acrobatics and performance arts.

The event also gave guests a chance to kick off the season of giving, with the holidays just around the corner. In support of Rady Children's Hospital – San Diego, shoppers who made a $10 donation to the organization received a Fashion Pass to get their shop on, with special savings throughout the weekend.

Fall Fashion in the Valley also kept guests entertained with in-store parties, exclusive discounts, and interactive pop-up makeup, styling and fitness demonstrations. The Beauty Garden area, located near Hugo Boss and Chico’s, treated fashionistas to mini makeovers from Sephora, dry bar hair styling from Carlton Hair Salon & Day Spa, and hand treatments and skin demonstrations from Kiehl’s Since 1851.

The first 250 attendees scored swag bags, and one lucky shopper won a $500 Simon gift card and makeover styling session with Fashion Valley’s new team of personal shoppers.

Thank you to all the amazing shoppers, media and bloggers who came out to support!

8 Tips on Creating Personal Presence

5003051297_42b43c1084_z I recently re-read a book called "Creating Personal Presence,"  which is all about using body language and other social queues to help yourself get ahead in a professional environment. According to the author, Dianna Booher, personal presence is hard to define but easy to recognize. Whether you're a seasoned public speaker or a novice business professional, this book has great tips for everyone. If you don't have time to read the book, here are some of my favorite pointers:

The message starts in the listener's head

Stand up straight, take a deep breath and inhale enough air so you can speak with power. What you have to say is only half the battle and the delivery is really key. People will react to your voice quality first, and your message second, so don't let your voice give away any nerves you may have lingering. It's like reading a child a bedtime story: it's not the words that put them to sleep, but rather the melodic tone of your voice.

On commanding the floor

If you're in a meeting with someone who tends to interrupt, take control of the floor early on. Speak with a firm voice and lay the groundwork of where you plan to go. You can say, "I'd like to point out three reasons why we should be recommending this course of action..." If the interrupter tries to barge in, use a firm voice and say, "Please let me finish with my two other reasons..." and go on.

Think like Russell Wilson

Strategic thinking has a great deal to do with personal presence. Russell Wilson said, "Why not us?" Similarly, this book encourages you to think, "why not?" Why not think about what others are doing and ask why can't it be done differently? Don't be a contrarian just for the sake of being one, but there are times when it is totally appropriate to think this way in order to streamline protocols, discover new opportunities and think outside the box.

I also especially like Booher's "Rules for Clear Communication." This goes for speaking and writing, and I couldn't be more on board with these as a great refresher for any communications pro:

1. Strive for simple. Don't use a long word when you could use a short one. 2. Use strong verbs and specific nouns to state your main ideas. 3. Use an active voice, not passive. 4. Be ready to state your case, but don't come off as rehearsed. 5. Speak, and then listen.

These are just some of the gems the book has to offer. If you have any personal presence tips you've found useful, tweet us about them @CuratorPR!

How to Score Back-to-School Brand Buzz

With summer winding down (say it isn’t so!), many kids and college students are heading back to school this month, making it a busy time of year for retail. According to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation, people will spend about $26.5 billion on back-to-school items. The average family will spend just over $669 on things like supplies, clothing and electronics. College students and their parents will spend an average $916.

With so many choices for back-to-school style and supplies, how can brands make it to the head of the class when it comes to back-to-school shopping? At Curator, we have the pleasure of working closely with 17 Simon properties located throughout the Western U.S., and back-to-school efforts are at full steam.

Here are some great tips from Simon, as a resource for back-to-school cool, on how to build up that seasonal brand buzz:

1. Show off the goods: As a global leader in retail real estate, one great move Simon has made this year is to align with Teen Vogue, the number one source of fashion, beauty and pop-culture news for trendsetting teens. Simon has partnered with Teen Vogue for an exclusive style guide, featuring fashion looks curated by style experts. Shoppers can pick up the guide at their local Simon Mall, or access it online at http://simon-malls.publ.com/Fashion-Trend-Report.

Trend Report

2. Mix fashion and music: Nearly 80 Simon Malls across the country have also partnered with Teen Vogue in collaboration with their “Back-to-School Saturdays” initiative for “ABC’s of Style” events throughout this month, which feature Teen Vogue fashion shows, editor appearances, musical performances, celebrity meet-and-greets, special deals & offers and more, all in preparation to head back to class.

Teen Vogue Kickoff at Del Amo Fashion Center

(Credit: Getty Images)

Teen Vogue kicked off BTSS at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, CA on Friday with another fashion show showcasing with the hottest back-to-school trends for fall (hosted by Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Amy Astley and Debby Ryan, star of Disney Channel’s Jessie) and paired it with a musical performance by The Janoskians. The intersection of music and fashion is always a great way to infuse excitment into heading back to school, by encouraging families to have fun while ticking through their back-to-school shopping lists.

Check out a clip on Good Day LA featuring some of the popular looks for this season that also were displayed on the runway at Del Amo Fashion Center.

In Southern California, ABCs of Style events are taking place at the following Simon Malls:

Brea Mall: Friday, August 22 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Highlights include a fashion show, giveaways and a musical performance by pop/rock band Before You Exit.

Del Amo Fashion Center: Saturday, August 23 from noon to 4 p.m. Highlights include a fashion show, giveaways and a musical performance and meet-and-greet with British band Rixton.

3. Give back through social: Engaging with shoppers directly through social media channels like Twitter and Instagram is a great way to amplify the conversation around back-to-school by showcasing Simon Malls as the best resource to find fashionable outfits for a new school year. This year, shoppers can impress Simon with their Back-to-School looks using the hashtags #foundationsimon and #contest to be entered to win a $500 Simon shopping spree. The entry period kicked off during this back-to-school season, and all entries must be received by December 31, 2014. Official rules are available here: http://www.simon.com/foundatsimon-bts.

Simon social

Did Simon make the grade this back-to-school season? Tweet us wth your thoughts @CuratorPR.

Never Finding Your Niche May be a Good Thing After All

prattAs an aspiring photographer, videographer and PR practitioner, I constantly get asked about what my niche is. I don’t have one. I’ve never been one to pigeonhole myself in a singular interest or subject. My interests and aspirations change as often the weather does, and though many people will shrug that off as being wishy-washy or indecisive, I argue that it is a good thing to not have a niche. Take actor Chris Pratt for example. Known for his many roles, but most notably as the lovable simpleton Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation, Pratt has acted in just about every type of role there is. He is slowly consuming Hollywood and building an empire in his name, and there’s no stopping him.

Pratt entered the Hollywood-o-sphere through television programs including the O.C., Everwood and Parks and Recreation. Within just five years, Pratt has acted in comedies such as The Five-Year Engagement and Delivery Man, to high grossing dramatic films like Money Ball, Zero Dark Thirty, and Her. Pratt was also the lead voice actor in The LEGO Movie, as the uncreative LEGO construction worker, Emmet.

Looking forward, Pratt is the star of the upcoming Marvel space odyssey The Guardians of The Galaxy as Star-Lord, the lead action hero of the series. And, to top it off, he was also cast to star in the highly anticipated 2015 Jurassic Park sequel Jurassic World.

By 2015, Pratt will have successfully starred in comedy, romance, drama, action, animation, and indie film genres, as well as video games. With such a wide range of work, Pratt has established himself as a transformational actor in the fashion of Matthew MCconaughey, Brian Cranston, Christian Bale and dare I say – Gary Oldman.

I firmly believe the strongest work you will accomplish will be something new and out of your comfort zone. Keeping a fresh perspective while being able to grow within whatever it is that you do is invaluable. And as the public relations industry is ever-changing, having mindset about work is key to an agency’s success. So, with that I say dare to branch out, never settle in a niche because it’s the people that surprise you who do the best work.

-- Colin is an intern at Curator who graduated in 2013 from Gonzaga University with a Bachelors in public relations and promotions. When Colin isn’t spending time with Curator he’s tracking the latest film buzz or photographing anything and everything in the Puget Sound area. 

March Blogging Madness Goal: Achieved!

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On March 1, we announced we were endeavoring to blog here every single day for a month. Even on weekends. Well, we did it! Ever since that month ended, we've been going strong, (but taking most weekends off), and we're loving the benefits of keeping a constant stream of content to deliver to our readers. Along the way, we blogged about agency interview questions, visual social media, inspiration for digital coming from tangible, pulling off the perfect party, and more. Today, we celebrated achieving our blogging goal with a team lunch at nearby Elysian Fields.

The fun doesn't stop here, though. We mentioned Curator's Vision for 2014 in our kick-off post. We're still committed to bringing you original blog posts each week, including our hallmark links of the week post on Fridays. We've been delighted to hear feedback from readers on our posts, and to have the opportunity to strike up a conversation on social or in person with brands and people we write about and admire.

Some of the team members have summarized key learnings from the blog challenge exercise below:

"The blogging challenge reminded me how much I miss blogging in general! While at times it was hard to think of a topic, I enjoyed sharing my tips and love for Jimmy Fallon with our readers. I think this might inspire another blogging challenge for my own personal blog. #fingerscrossed"

"We work with bloggers a lot on behalf of our clients and I don't think you can truly understand and appreciate the time that goes into creating new, different and read-worthy content on a daily or even weekly basis. It really isn't as easy as it looks!"

"We all kept on top of the calendar to remind each other and help one another brainstorm in order to pull this thing off. In the process, I think we got more efficient in crafting blog posts and realized it's not so scary. I know I personally am always seeking out ideas from the conversations I have, articles I read, and observations I make for my next blog post. Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places sometimes."

We thank you for following along on our journey and hope you'll continue to do so. Cheers!

Grow With Us

GWU_Twitter_coverimage copy If there were two words that could sum up Curator’s approach to social media, they’d be, “Be Helpful.” That’s the essence of a new campaign we’re working on with Swansons Nursery called Grow With Us.

Swansons has been a staple in Seattle's Crown Hill neighborhood for 90 years, during which time, needless to say, they've built up a passionate following. Part of that growth is thanks to Swansons' deeply knowledgeable staff of professional gardeners. It's that expertise that we wanted to bring to a larger audience on social media with Grow With Us.

Here's how it works. Say you have a section of your yard or garden at home (planter pots work, too) that you're not sure what to do with. Swansons can help in just a few easy steps:

1. Snap a photo of the space you're working in. 2. Upload it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #heyswansons. 3. Swanson's will come back with an inspiration board full of ideas on what to plant. 4. You'll also get a 10%-off coupon.

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If you just have a quick question—"What kind of plants should I buy for my office?" "What's the best time of year to plant pumpkins?"—that's cool, too. Just ask it and use #heyswansons, or post to their Facebook wall.

Like we said: Be helpful.

We're really excited to be working with Swansons, and we'd love to see all the projects you're working on this spring. Hit up the hashtag the next time you're out in the yard and have a question, and look for a response.