National Award Announcement For The Washington Pavilion

We had the privilege of working with The Washington Pavilion to announce that their washingtonpavillionAction Arts and Science Program won a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. This honor positions them as one of the top arts and humanities-based programs in the country. Michelle Obama will even be presenting them with the award in Washington D.C. tomorrow, so yeah, this is kind of a big deal.

We were excited to lend a hand because 1.) We love and support the Washington Pavilion and all of the great things they bring to Sioux Falls, and 2.) Their Action Arts and Science Program brings amazing learning opportunities to kids that don’t otherwise have access. And quite frankly, this program doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.

The Action Arts and Science Program offers super cool arts and science activities to children in Title I schools in Sioux Falls, from the art of graffiti, to the physics of skateboarding, these activities truly make learning fun, and they sound so awesome that they should maybe consider an after-WORK program for adults… please? Preferably a class that teaches you how to make your own personal robot. I’d name mine CyBoris.

The goal is to expose students to these subjects in a fun and engaging way to inspire confidence, teach creativity and problem solving, and set them up for a lifetime appreciation for the arts and sciences. Doesn’t that sound like something we all should be getting behind?

To prepare the Pavilion for this big announcement, we partnered with our best pals at Mud Mile to create a video featuring interviews of students and teachers, plus a 30 second PSA. We 2015-10_Washington-Pavilion_NAHYPA_Brochure_VFIN_JPEG_1also made a brochure to educate people about the program and the award, and we offered our all-around guidance and strategy when it came to making the announcement in the press.

It was a great project to work on, and downright inspiring to see such a wonderful program for so many wonderful students in the community get the recognition they deserve. Check out the video made by Mud Mile below. And if you want to learn more about the program go here. Thanks to the Washington Pavilion for letting us be involved with such a rewarding and meaningful program!

:30 PSA

More Than A Clown

More Than A Clown Jun 29, 2012

I know a guy who could probably write a book on public relations, or at least a chapter. He’s not a bigwig in a suite or an award-clenching hot shot. You might actually know him. He’s tall, has red hair, really big feet… his name is Ronald McDonald.

McDonald’s is one of our clients. When there’s a special celebration or promotion going on at a restaurant, Ronald McDonald is sure to be there, and it’s my duty to assist him. He signs autographs, takes pictures with customers, performs magic tricks for kids, hands out stickers and jokes around with the locals. I just carry his bag of magic and make sure no one messes with him.

When I assisted Ronald for the first time, I expected your run-of-the-mill clown, the kind that makes bad puns, smells like cigars, and pretty much repels every adult and child in his path. But I was wrong.

I was surprised to see the amount of joy that Ronald brought to customers. He put a smile on just about every single person’s face, young and old, with his sense of humor and welcoming character. People are really drawn to the guy. Sometimes customers will hang around the restaurant for the entire duration of Ronald’s stay just to see his antics. I’ve seen elderly women slow-dance with him, boyish grins light up the faces of tough guys, and people hugging him as if he was their long-lost father. It’s evident that Ronald really enjoys making people happy.

With Ronald there is no hidden sales agenda or marketing scheme. Yes, he’s tied to McDonald’s, but his sole purpose is to bring customers joy, that’s it.

I can’t put my finger on what it is about him that elates people so much. But for one thing, Ronald is a genuine people-person. And people appreciate authenticity, especially when it comes to interacting with a brand. So maybe people can pick up on Ronald’s sincere desire to make them laugh, to make them feel welcome, and to make them feel appreciated. And that may be the best kind of PR any business could hope to achieve.

– Andrew

 

Golden Opportunities

To some, it’s just a job. But for Kendall Titiml, the man with the golden voice, it’s a golden opportunity.

Walk into the McDonald’s in Wayne, America (that’s in Nebraska, but look at the water tower and you’ll understand the nomenclature) and you may be greeted by a smile wider and brighter than the arches outside. That “I’m Lovin’ It” personality belongs to Kendall, 22, a marketing student at Wayne State College. Kendall entered the Voice of McDonald’s IV, a contest to recognize McDonald’s employees for their singing talents. As he made it through the public voting to be one of the U.S. finalists, news organizations in Nebraska, Iowa and Palau (Kendall’s home and an island nation 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo with a population several thousand less than Aberdeen, SD) covered his journey.

But a lesson in PR (and life): don’t assume you know the whole story.

As we worked to share Kendall’s story (and help him get votes), we got a chance to interview him. He chatted about his philosophy in life, love of music and excitement that he would use his winnings to send his mom to his sister’s graduation and he may even make the trip home as well.

But then he mentioned something else.

At five-years-old, he became ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome and needed to be taken to a larger hospital hours away in Hawaii. While there, his family stayed at a Ronald McDonald House. Kendall told us how grateful he became back then for the chance to recover and he believed McDonald’s gave him two opportunities in his life.

While we thought we just wanted to share the story of a hard-working college kid with a great voice and passion to perform who loved to inspire people with his positive personality, we found another story. A young man grateful to share his talent and endlessly appreciative of people he never would know who gave his family a place to call home while he recovered.

Next up, Kendall heads to Orlando in April where he competes for international bragging rights singing with 16 competitors from around the globe, all hoping for their golden opportunity.

– Jolene Loetscher

Announcing the Newest ADwërker!

No it’s not a playmate for Monday, or another mascot to keep Rod Bender company, ADwërks has hired a real human!

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Schaefer, our new Disruption Control Specialist. Elizabeth, or “E,” as she has come to be known around the office (What? It’s easier to type!) will be working as our traffic manager, keeping all of us other ADwërkers on task – a task that is, well, no easy task. The obstacles are endless: Hay’s favorite smelly snack mix, Andrew’s bad puns, Jim’s random break-outs into song, the list goes on.

Of her many duties, her primary duty is to make sure the many projects for our several clients remain organized, on-schedule, and on-task. So if Leigh has yet to proof a radio script that needs to go out in an hour, it’s Elizabeth’s job to crack the whip and make sure it gets done. She will also be leading our status meetings, updating the job sheet, doling out assignments, and requesting verbal status reports on projects. I won’t go into what happens if your status report is… unsatisfactory… Even the boss is subjected to Elizabeth’s task managing!

Elizabeth is originally from Hancock, Minnesota, where she was born and raised on a large farm. Although she has now moved to the big city of Sioux Falls, agriculture still runs in her blood. The combination of her interests in marketing and agriculture led her to an internship at Paulsen Marketing in the summer of 2010, where she had the opportunity to experience many areas of the agency. Then in May of 2011, she graduated at Augustana College with a degree in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing.

Outside of advertising and agriculture, Elizabeth’s interests include:

  • Knitting
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Reading
  • And being totally pumped about getting to bike to work from her new apartment in central Sioux Falls.

We’re very excited to have Elizabeth and her talents here at ADwërks, and judging by all the sniffing, Monday is too. Have any whip-cracking tips for her?

– Andrew

Liver is Always Liver

Liver by any other name, well, just call it liver. Dress it up with gravy, corn or peas, but liver will never be a juicy cut of steak slathered with A.1®. Sauce, a mouth-watering filet mignon or a burger beefed up with cheese and bacon. It can never be the other white meat, it will always be beef. And whatever name you use, it still tastes like liver and I will not, cannot and could not think of eating it. But not that my mom did not try.

Growing up on a farm, when you butcher your own cattle, you get left with a lot of leftovers which includes a freezer full of tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters and liver, when all the rest found its way to a plate. My mom knew this, and she would call liver any other name but liver in hopes I would eat it. Sometimes it would almost work. I’d take a nibble or two and then question the cut. Sometimes simply the look would throw me into a toddler-like tantrum.

When it comes to PR, you get plenty of liver. Good stories, full of iron. They beef up a company, but rarely do they suit everyone’s palate – the specialized, niched and super-quirky pitches. As business owners, we want to pitch everyone everywhere every story, because we want to believe everyone everywhere loves to know everything we do. But you would not serve a plate of liver, steak or stew meat at a meeting of the American Vegan Society (yes, it exists – http://www.americanvegan.org).

So as PR professionals, we cannot serve every story to everyone. We need to know the menu, our audience, and what they like and want to eat. Blame it (or credit it to) technology, but journalism evolved in the last decade into the Mall of America, filled with amusement parks, Subways, Hooters and lots of stores, each catering to a unique audience. If we want to create effective (and efficient from an opportunity cost perspective) pitches, we need to know what our audience wants and to not waste their time with what we think, or hope they will like. As advertisers, we research what works and what doesn’t, and PR must follow the same philosophy. It may seem like I’m serving up some strained peas, easy and obviously little chewing required, but so often (as I remember from being a journalist receiving emails every day from the launch of a Bosnian eat-on-a-dime cookbook to pitches about throwing the perfect children’s party with a budget of $20,000 when I reported on courts, cops and crime). When we pitch to the masses, they pitch our idea in the trash. Instead, we need to know the reporters, the blogs and the beats that care most about what idea we want to sell them. We must find the unique angles, and then serve our stories up on a silver platter. I admit, I am as guilty as my mom at trying, wanting and hoping someone will eat what I dish up. I pitched faux-Facebook websites like a pop-up-shop on a random street corner pushing the latest Louis Vuitton bag, and I would pitch to anyone and everyone because my client wanted a story on the front page of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. That’s when a slice of humble pie helps for all involved. Communicating to clients also becomes critical so they know why and how you want to reach the people you believe will be most interested in them.

Now I’m kind of hungry with all this talk of food. I think I’ll grab a delivery menu for pizza tonight.

– Jolene Loetscher

Photos by Spec-ta-cles and coolmikeol. Thanks!