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East-West Shrine Game Wrap Up

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Saturday, January 21, 2017, marked the 92nd annual East-West Shrine Game and Pinstripe’s sixth year managing the advertising, social media, public relations, media credentials, pre-game and much more. While preparation for the game takes a couple months, the week leading up to it is an action packed time for us, and we love every moment of it!

 

Kicking off the week with a visit to the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Tampa with four busloads of all-star football players, coaches, team managers and other staff is incredible. We couldn’t think of a better way to remind ourselves and these young rising star football players what the Shrine Game means.

Monday am – We start the day by visiting the Game Office at the Tradewinds Hotel on St. Pete Beach. We check in with the staff there, pick up the most up to date rosters and practice schedules, and just say hi to all of our wonderful colleagues that make the Shrine Game possible.

Monday lunch – We collect and organize all of our media interview requests for the players and coaches. These have been arriving via text, phone call, email – any method the press can connect with us, they do! Our goal is to make sure the press gets what they want, but also that the players get exposure for the week – they’ve worked hard to get here and deserve some recognition for that.

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Monday afternoon – Head over to Shorecrest Preparatory School football stadium, where the East Team practices. We set up our media table, where we distribute rosters, schedules, and check-in writers, photographers, and videographers who are approved for credentials to access the practice field and press box at the game. We even hand out mints and sunscreen, because we’re just thoughtful like that. You’d be surprised at how many people take advantage of both. We take photos and video of practice and post to all social accounts. After practice we pull players aside for in-person interviews with media, and give them instructions for radio and interview call-ins they will need to do in the evening. Later in the afternoon, we head over to St. Pete High football stadium for West Team practice, where we do the same thing that we did with the East Team.

Monday night – We all meet to go over media requests, recap the last two days, look at photos/video, and make sure we’re on track for the rest of the week. The whole team is always checking in with each other to make sure all bases are covered and to see if anyone needs help with anything.

Tuesday – Thursday – These days are much like Monday – we attend practices, connect with media, and make sure that social is alive with photos, updates, and fun, interactive posts to keep our fans engaged and make sure they can follow what is going on. Some of the players’ families are not able to attend the game, so our posts are their way of seeing what is going on during the week.

press release writing

Thursday, Friday, Saturday mornings – Prior to the week, we booked morning shows for the executive director of the game and the Shriners Hospitals patient ambassadors, so we attend these morning shows for support and guidance, as well as to connect with the patient ambassadors. This is our first time meeting them and it is always a pleasure!

Friday evening – We attend the banquet! The Shriners, players, coaches, and the Shrine Game team come together at Tropicana Field for a night filled with food, awards, and celebration. The executive director of the game, Harold Richardson, presents the Pat Tillman Award. Pat Tillman was a professional football player who walked away from the game after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to join the U.S. Army and fight for our country. After just three years in the NFL, Tillman turned down a multi-million dollar contract offer from the Cardinals to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was killed during a mission in Afghanistan in 2004. This year the award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service, went to Air Force safety, Weston Steelhammer.

video production

Saturday – GAME DAY! Although kickoff is at 1pm, the Pinstripe team is at The Trop at 10am to set up the press box, go through the production schedule with the Rays video team, and get ready to provide last-minute media credentials at will call. We manage the pre-game pageantry, in-game video and graphics, half-time show, sideline photography, press statistics, MVP voting, the final game press releases, and more! It feels like we fit a month of work into a single day that lasts well into the night. It is a tremendous sense of satisfaction as we look out over the dark, empty Tropicana Field where just a few hours before, a hundred young football stars burst onto the field to play for their futures, for their families, for many of their own reasons, but most of all, for the millions of Shriners Hospitals for Children patients who benefit from the game.

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Do-It-Yourself Video: Stephen Spielberg or Ed Wood Jr.?

Tampa Bay video production
There are many reasons you might want to create a corporate video for your business—video blogging, demonstrating a new product, offering a tour of your premises. The good news is that this form of communication has never been more accessible and easy to use than it is today. Many modern smartphones deliver higher quality video than some professional cameras of just 25 years ago. Additionally, there are inexpensive video-editing programs that will let you trim footage, add special effects, lay sound tracks and include graphics that can be mastered in just a few hours.

On the other hand, it’s still very easy to produce a very bad video, and all of today’s technology and editing capabilities sometimes give amateur film-makers a false sense of security. If you’re going to produce a video for your company, here are 10 steps for improving the process.

  • Have a clear purpose for your video. Before you dedicate a single pixel to your production, know what message you’re trying to convey and focus your energy on presenting that communication as concisely and effectively as possible.
  • Write a script. This will get you thinking about location, the people (“talent”) you will need, necessary props, and any graphics you may wish to create. If this is going to be a short production, you may not need an official script to share with others, but it’s important to have an outline so everything will proceed smoothly. Chances are, you’ll be taking people away from their regular duties so don’t waste anyone’s time by having to figure things out while on the set.
  • Make sure you’ll have adequate lighting.  When people think of poor-quality video, bad lighting is one thing that comes immediately to mind. You’ll need to take pains to overcome the shadows, sickly hues or graininess that often comes from inadequate indoor lighting. If at all practical, the best option may be stay near windows or to go outside in the sunlight. Not only will the lighting be great, it will add a certain freshness to your work.
  • Focus on sound quality. First try to shoot in isolation from background noise. If indoors, disconnect phones, intercom systems, computer alerts, etc. Let others know that you’re filming and to be quiet if they’re nearby. Next, have microphones for people who will be speaking on camera; external mics simply don’t sound very good. Also, as you film, stop to do a sound check. No one wants to sit down to edit video and discover there’s no audio.
  • Avoid extended shots of ‘talking heads.’ Having a single person talking on screen for a long time (20 seconds or more) gets monotonous. Consider using B-roll (secondary footage to appear on screen in accompaniment of narration) as a good way to change things up. If nothing else, at least change the camera angle.
  • Be careful with ‘jump cuts.’ It used to be a no-no to have someone talking on screen with an obvious edit taking place right in the middle of their speaking, but some film-makers like the effect. A good guide as to what’s acceptable might be that the break appears to be an artistic choice, rather than something you’re hoping to get away with.
  • Let the talent ‘act natural.’ If you want someone to be terrible on camera, just tell them to “act natural,” so don’t ever say those words … and yet … The best approach is to tell the person being filmed to just “talk to you.” Then turn the camera on and let them go. If they mess up, you can always fix it in editing (and maybe with some B-roll). And don’t be too critical. Nobody’s a professional here.
  • Change up the angle of action scenes. Just as is the case with the talking heads, you don’t want to linger too long on any single shot, even if the subjects are engaged in an on-screen activity. Change the angle of the shot, or consider a semi close-up of a participant’s face.
  • Make sure your anchorperson or narrator speaks clearly. You want inflection in your speaker’s voice but don’t overdo it. (This is an amateur corporate video, not Shakespeare’s King Lear.) He or she should speak at a good pace but fully enunciate each word. It’s also usually best to avoid thick accents.
  • Don’t worry about “it.” When you finish work on your video, there will inevitably be something that bothers you … something that you would like to have done differently or that didn’t come out the way you imagined. Remember, when people view your film, they’ll only see what you show them on screen. They’ll never know all the “shoulda, woulda, couldas” that are floating around in your own hyper-critical head. Simply learn from your experience … you’ll get better with time.
  • Hire a consultant. If you’re producing weekly or monthly blogs and want to be able to do your video in house, but also want to do a great job, consider hiring a video consultant like Pinstripe Marketing, who will give you advice on location, lighting, equipment, audio, and editing programs to suit your purpose. They can even point you in the direction of stock footage and music to spice up your videos. Spending a little money up front on a pro consultant can help your videos stand out and make sure you are not wasting money on costly errors.

Want some help producing a corporate video? We’re ready!

Good Marketing Never Forgets the ‘Old Year’

Tampa Bay marketing firm
The New Year is upon us, and with it comes a sense of a “fresh start” — especially if the past 365 days haven’t been particularly good. However, before we can measure progress, we must have an idea of how far we’ve come. Therefore, it’s essential to record the results of past marketing initiatives and reference them from one year to the next.

Understand that every advertising campaign or customer/prospect outreach effort is very much like an experiment. Not only are you interested in results, you’ve got to control for variables.

Necessarily, there will be a “best guess” component to your experimentation based on experience, industry knowledge and instinct. Additionally, some variables will be beyond your control while others are completely invisible to you. But every campaign requires standard, basic decisions. To avoid repeating the same mistakes and to steadily improve results, pay attention to:

  • Audience demographics – Age, gender, ethnicity, income, location … you should have a profile of your target audience before your campaign begins. Say, for instance, 75% of your target audience is male but 50% of the leads generated are female. Such over-performance with women might suggest untapped demand. Yet you’ll never know unless you record who received your messages in the first place.
  • Campaign timing – From “back-to-school” sales for children’s clothing stores, to tax season for CPAs, every industry has a time of year that’s expected to bring in more business. But is it better to advertise a month before the event or just a few days in advance? And the days of the week that you advertise could make a difference in response as well. Will your Monday email blast get lost in the clutter from the weekend? Make identifiable changes from one campaign to the next, and compare results.
  • Types of communications (email, direct mail, radio, social media … etc.?) – The tricky part about comparative analysis of media is that results can be radically different from one to another, yet actual effectiveness could be almost equal. Take for example, the email blast that costs next to nothing per contact, but also brings in very few qualified leads, versus a creative (and expensive) direct mail campaign that nets a much higher percentage of actual sales. It’s only when you try different approaches over time that you can determine which has the greater positive impact on your bottom line.
  • Frequency of contact – One thing we hear commonly hear from clients is that they tried a certain type of advertising and got no response. This often means they mailed a postcard or sent out an email blast—one time and out of the blue—and no one noticed. But people get bombarded by thousands of messages every day. To make an impression, you usually must repeat yourself. However, there is a sweet spot—before diminishing returns on your advertising investment—that you won’t find until there’s a documented history to examine.
  • Tone of the communication – Did your advertising seek to get a chuckle, tug at someone’s heart strings or imply that life as we know it rested on the prospect’s buying decision? Most business owners think they know their customers—and they usually do—but it’s risky to make blanket assumptions about the mindset of others. Certainly, you want to stay within the boundaries of your brand image, but occasionally changing the tenor of your messages may provide valuable marketing insight.

As you go from one campaign to the next, isolate a specific aspect of the communication to change.  You don’t want to change too much. Otherwise, if results are greatly impacted, you won’t know which factor was at work. Plus, if you’ve been getting reasonable ROI from your marketing budget, you don’t want to risk a disastrous result by suddenly changing too much. Your expectation should be incremental improvement. Sure, you might discover an advertising formula that exceeds your wildest hopes, but in the meantime, plan on adjusting and analyzing your marketing plans as long as you’re in business.

 

Ready to kick off your 2017 marketing? We are!

Et Cultura Festival Wrap-Up

et-cultura-wrap-up_newsAbout a month ago the first inaugural Et Cultura Festival took place. The festival was the culmination of four creative minds, a city in the midst of tremendous cultural growth, and a collective of people from a myriad of spaces, from technology to politics to art to education to craft brewing. The timing, it seemed, was perfect. The City of St. Petersburg was ready for this.

Lea Umberger, one of the 4 founders of Et Cultura Festival, at Station House St. Pete.

Lea Umberger, one of the 4 founders of Et Cultura Festival, at Station House St. Pete.

et cultura film festival

Colin Lyman, one of the four founders of Et Cultura Festival.

et cultura festival

Joel Malizia and David Allison, two of the founders of Et Cultura.

Pinstripe Marketing got involved back in June when we met Joel Malizia, one of the founders of Et Cultura. We invited Joel into our office to chat and he captivated us with the promise of Et Cultura – our creative souls could not resist a festival full of art, music, film, and interactive. We decided to sponsor the festival in a big way – by doing pubic relations and media relations in the months leading up to and during the festival. So it began. Wrapped up in the whirlwind, we were in awe as excitement built around the festival. It seemed as if everyone we knew had heard of Et Cultura, either from us or someone else. We were a part of something big in a city we are proud to call home, something that, deep down under, we all knew was coming.

We also saw some great connections and decided to get some of our clients involved. Shorecrest Preparatory School sponsored part of Et Kidtura, a section of the festival just for kids. Our friends at ADM Two, a trade show fabrication and design firm, sponsored many of the beautiful banners and signs for the festival.

We attended as many as the interactive sessions as we could, and were wowed by the local and national presenters that stood before us and discussed their experiences and thoughts on technology in design, entrepreneurship, and even art. The final keynote speaker was South By Southwest’s own Catlin Whitington. After his presentation a panel discussion erupted about how to keep the momentum of Et Cultura going, to make it a signature of St. Pete.

et cultura film art music festival

Panelists for the Metathesis St. Pete discussion after SXSW keynote speaker Catlin Whitington’s presentation.

The art and music started on Friday with a graphic design exhibition curated by HYPE Group and held in the beer garden at Green Bench Brewery. DJ Sugarbear was spinning soul music that had us all grooving, and in general it was a great atmosphere. The four Et Cultura founders, Lea Umberger, Joel Malizia, Colin Lyman, and David Allison had their official ribbon cutting ceremony right there by the artwork, and later we all headed down to see local band, The Hip Abduction.

art festival

The four Et Cultura founders cut the ribbon at the graphic design show.

Saturday’s art exhibition, Heroes and Villains, was curated by Black Amethyst Gallery and featured dozens of local artists of many different mediums depicting their own versions of heroes and villains from literature and film. The makers festival took place as well, so there was plenty to see and do. A spectacular projection mapping display was held every hour along with music on two stages and several films being screened. It was an action packed weekend.

We are so glad to have met Joel on that day in June and to have been able to participate on the ground floor of this festival. We worked with our media contacts to connect the founders with the Tampa Bay Times, Daytime Television, and several other local news outlets who showed an interest in Et Cultura. We are certain that this interest will only build as the founders build their list of featured presenters, artists, musicians, and filmmakers. We can’t wait to see what Et Cultura has in store for our city next year!

View some of the articles and news clips from Et Cultura:

Tampa Bay TimesLineup for inaugural Et Cultura festival announced

St. Pete Patch: Shorecrest Welcomes Et Cultura: A Festival of Creative Culture

WTSP 10 News: New Et Cultura festival to celebrate St. Pete culture

Creative Loafing: Photos from Et Cultura over the weekend

Daytime Television: Et Cultura Festival Brings Art, Music, Film, Makers, and More to St. Pete

Green Bench Monthly: Et Cultura Festival Showcases Vibrant St. Pete Art, Film And Technology

 

Top Pinstripe Blog Posts of 2016

tampa marketing firm
We have enjoyed a tremendous year at Pinstripe! One thing we really enjoy is sharing information about creating great marketing and communications to grow your business. Throughout 2016, we have written hundreds of articles, and it’s always interesting to see what pieces you like most. Our most popular posts are always our client spotlights – you really like to learn about some of our favorite people! Features about Pinstripe projects and case studies also generate a lot of readership. But the ones that prove most valuable are the ‘how to’ articles – so in case you missed one, or just want a refresher, here are the top 15 articles of 2016!

 

15. Logo Design and Corporate Identity Manuals

The history of graphic design is extensive and can be traced back hundreds of years. For the sake of this article, we are going to focus on graphic design as it was forming during the industrial era, and how the appearance and growth of corporations affected one aspect of graphic design in particular – logos.

 

14. Do You Have Your Elevator Speech Ready?

You and a stranger are standing in a hotel lobby waiting for an elevator. He has the appearance of a fine, upstanding chap and you’re in an affable mood so you comment on what a nice day it is. He’s welcoming of conversation. Additional pleasantries ensue, followed by introductions and the customary handshake. The elevator finally arrives and just as you and your new friend step inside, he asks about your business.

It’s time for the ‘elevator speech.’

 

13. Trade Shows: To Participate or Not … That’s the Last Question

At some point, you may hear of a trade show for your industry and entertain the notion of attending. The immediate question is whether such an excursion would be a worthwhile investment of time, effort and money.  Reaching that determination will require carefully considered answers to several other questions, first.

 

12.The Physics of Marketing

People may tell you that marketing is “more art than science.” And at first blush, this assertion seems valid. Consider the stimulating imagery and compelling prose that accompanies a typical advertising campaign. However, when it comes to attracting and keeping customers, we should take instruction from Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion.

 

11. Proposals – Advice from the Selection Committee

Recently, Pinstripe Marketing attended a webinar hosted by the Society of Marketing Professionals (SMPS) Tampa Bay called “Secrets of the Selection Process,” by Gary Coover. The course was designed to enlighten us about creating a proposal as well as presenting the proposal to the selection committee, and we came away with a few great tips that we thought we would share.

 

10. How to Leave an Effective Voicemail Message

When trying to reach someone, having to leave a voicemail (VM) message can be very frustrating. The exercise is especially tiresome if you’re in sales—leaving message after message with little hope of a callback. Pessimistically you go through the motions; repeating words you’ve said countless times before.

 

9. Social Media Superhero: Tips for Curating Social Content

Social media accounts for businesses are now the norm rather than the exception, so keeping up-to-date with your posts is something that must be done on a regular basis. We understand that this is time-consuming and is yet another item to add to your to-do list, but below are some tips for streamlining the process and keeping your content interesting and fresh.

 

8. Online Marketing: 5 Things That Most Smart People Don’t Know

Online marketing is one of those things that’s easy to start, but difficult to do correctly. That’s because the internet makes it easy for people with little or no experience to present themselves as experts and give lots of bad advice. It’s bad enough when this bad advice doesn’t produce results, but in many cases, it can even harm your business for the long term. Just like with medical and legal decisions, it’s not what you know about marketing that gets you in trouble—it’s what you don’t know. These tips will help you avoid making some of the common marketing mistakes that a lot of smart people make simply because they followed bad advice from someone who presented themselves as an expert.

 

7. Copy vs. Graphics: Bickering Spouses of Advertising?

In this age of social media, viral videos and search engine optimization (SEO), the role of imagery and copy in marketing is like ever-present background noise. And yet from billboards to websites, the healthy marriage of copy and graphics is almost always a critical component in the successful execution of promotional efforts.

 

6. The Importance of a Trademark Search

A trademark is a name, word or logo used to indicate the source of a product or service. While a “trademark” technically refers to a brand used on goods and products (e.g., coffee, sneakers, jewelry), a “service mark” refers to a brand used in connection with services (e.g., restaurant services, insurance services, accounting services). Almost every company imaginable has a trademark or service mark – either the name of the company advertised to the public or the name of its product.

 

5. Writing a Compelling Biography

If it hasn’t already happened—don’t be surprised one day to have someone ask you for your bio (e.g. short biography). Employers often want them for the “About Us” or “Our Professionals” sections of their web sites. Bios may be needed for a press release announcing an important new hire. Meeting planners ask for bios of important guests or speakers at conventions and conferences. If you have your vital information on hand and ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll earn the sincere appreciation of a lot of people … and may save yourself some embarrassment.

 

4. Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

At some point in our lives, we all need a professional photographer. Whether you need a photo for your web site, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, product shots for your business or photos for your wedding, there are some things that are best left to the pros. Here are some tips for hiring the right photographer for your business needs.

 

3. How to Sell a White Elephant

From time to time, we’ll find it necessary to sell something that might lead one to question the sanity of anyone who buys it. This could be a product, a service, or even an investment opportunity that’s missing readily apparent value. While a challenge, successfully unloading (or rather, locating a buyer), is often just a matter of looking at the offering a bit differently ourselves, and then getting a prospective customer to see it the same way.

 

2. Utilizing Nostalgia and Vernacular in Graphic Design

Graphic design as a promotional tool dates back to the 19th century, when the earliest form of graphic design relied solely on typography to make a point. During these early days, text, font style, and font size were the main vehicles of emphasis; you can see how designers started playing with different typefaces and boldness to draw attention to certain information. Over the years, as graphic design became more prominent, methods and styles evolved. People in the advertising industry began to experiment with different techniques to attract attention to products, as well as instill confidence in them and the companies that sold them.

 

And the most popular article of 2016 is…

1. What Makes a Business Card “Cool”?

If you’re someone whose work puts in you in contact with new people on a regular basis, you probably have a substantial supply of business cards. Doubtlessly, you also have a nice collection of business cards from the professionals you meet. Perhaps you’ve encountered one or two that caused you to pause and examine it more closely, thinking “Wow, that’s a cool card!”

 

Based on this list, it appears you’re just as nerdy as we are. 🙂

 

If you’d like to receive our articles right to your inbox, you can sign up here AND receive a complimentary copy of our Guide to Public Relations.

 

THANK YOU for giving us the opportunity to be a small part of your marketing initiatives. We wish you the very best for a healthy and prosperous 2017!

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