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Author: Cassidy Herrold

Bridging the Horizontal Divide between Leadership and Your Frontline

An interview with Elizabeth Baskin, Founder of Tribe, an internal communications consultancy in advance of her presentation to IABC Atlanta’s monthly luncheon chapter.

Silos occur in every organization, from the small start-up to large, global corporations.

“You read a lot about vertical silos in companies, meaning the disconnect between employees in different departments, business units or geographic locations,” explained Elizabeth Baskin, CEO and executive creative director for Tribe, Inc., an internal communications and branding agency focused entirely on developing internal brands.

“In Tribe’s national research on functional silos, employees often talked about what we call the horizontal silo, the chasm between the top company management and everybody else.”

According to Baskin, these silos are very common in companies with a large number of non-desk employees, and “manufacturing and retail, have a harder time with this because it’s more difficult to create communication channels between corporate and those employees without dedicated computers,” she said.

Horizontal-SiloHowever, it can be just as big of a divide within companies with “deskbound” employees, too. “The culture of the company also is a factor, as well as the communication style of the leadership,” Baskin added.

And if bridging the gap between the C-suite and the rest of the company were an easy task, communications professionals would not be having this conversation.

“It is a daunting task, but that doesn’t make a very good excuse for not doing it,” Baskin added. “Tribe recommends spending some time in the actual work environment of those front-line employees to identify possible touch points, like where are they physically when they’re working? Is it noisy? Are they sitting or standing? Are they outside? Driving a truck? Where do they go when they take their breaks?”

“You have to be creative in thinking of communication channels for this group,” she said.



ElizabethBaskinMore about Elizabeth and Tribe

Elizabeth Baskin founded Tribe in 2002, an internal communications agency focused in developing strategic plans to build employee engagement and the internal brand. She founded Tribe in 2002 as a branding boutique and quickly grew the business to a $5 million company. In 2009, she launched Starter Cards LLC, a division of Tribe, to create content such as the Start Your Own Company iPhone application and the Social Media for Old Folks webinars.


In Case You Missed It…

Communicating Health in a Time of Dramatic Industry Shifts: Three Atlanta Practitioners Share Social Marketing Best Practices in Healthcare

By Anne Wainscott-Sargent, Special to IABC Atlanta


At the June luncheon, IABC Atlantans got an inside view of innovative social engagement in the rapidly changing world of healthcare. The lunch panel, featuring thought leaders from both the provider and service/creative agency sides of the industry, has never been timelier given the seismic shifts occurring in patient care and delivery today.

Setting the stage for the discussion was panel facilitator Lea Volpe, a Canadian native and the new VP of communications and brand for PruittHealth, a holistic nursing care provider serving patients throughout the Southeast. “Healthcare in the United States is facing the perfect storm at the moment. It is an extremely interesting, challenging, frustrating and exciting time for people who are providers of healthcare, are service providers to healthcare organizations, or are consumers of healthcare,” said Volpe in introductory remarks.

She noted that several external factors are driving the industry, many of which the healthcare industry has no control over, such as legislation, demographic shifts and changes in the population, changes in the way healthcare providers are reimbursed, and a shift in how technology is being used not only in provider organizations but also by consumers themselves.

The upheaval has led to more mergers and acquisitions, resulting in “a rapidly consolidating marketplace.”

In addition, healthcare providers are no longer being reimbursed based on volume; they are starting to be reimbursed based on quality and value of care. “I personally think the evolution to quality of care reimbursement is good for the consumer – it means over time you will have more assurance that you and your family will be taken care of in a better way,” Volpe said, adding that in the near term, it’s creating an extremely complicated environment, especially for professional communicators.

She cited her own company as an example. “In Pruitt we have thousands of nurses working in care facilities all across the Southeastern U.S. Imagine trying to keep those people engaged and excited about their job when the challenges are getting fierce on a daily basis…On every level, whether it’s employee engagement, engagement of patients or communities or marketing communities to providers, it’s a really an interesting time to work in this industry.”

Lea_Shelly_CarolinaPorter Novelli: Changing Behavior at the Population Level

Kicking off the panel was Shelly Spoeth, senior VP and practice lead, health and social impact for the Atlanta office of Porter Novelli, a 40-year-old social marketing and PR agency. Spoeth shared how her agency is leveraging social marketing to help change health behavior at the population level.

A self-professed “public health nerd,” Spoeth worked on the agency side for both pharma and biotech firms before working in public health communications. Porter Novelli’s health practice’s clients include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as a variety of non-profit organizations.

When tackling the challenge of changing health behavior, Spoeth said her colleagues have to think differently about communications and marketing than communicators in commercial firms. “This approach takes into account psychology and looks at theory,” she said. “How do we help the 40-year-old smoker who has been smoking since they were very young – how do we help them stop? We are motivated by different things and there are different barriers.”

In-Case-You-Missed-It_PorterNovelliPorter Novelli’s planning effort begins with a campaign’s target audience as a focal point. “They should always be at the center of our discussions…at the center of our decisions,” she said, explaining that her agency interviews a lot of people to find out what keeps them from stopping or starting a particular behavior. She emphasized that in population health, it’s about voluntary behavior change. “You can’t force people to do anything.”

Sometimes policy changes can affect behavior – such as when smoking was no longer permitted in office buildings or on airplanes.

She shared several other examples of how to leverage research to reach populations with health messages. When working with CDC on a campaign to get more mothers to immunize their children, Spoeth and her colleagues had to decide which target audience would be best to reach – moms who were against vaccinating, moms who were on the fence or moms who were more supportive of vaccinations.

Another campaign, “Take Charge, Take the Test,” was rolled out by CDC to women to encourage voluntary HIV testing. The planning process included talking with more than 400 women around the country and the campaign endured for nearly a decade in large part because of what was heard over and over again in focus groups. That insight was that women felt that they knew they didn’t have HIV, but they may not know about their partner. “We took that insight and used it in a way that was not negative, but tapped into that concern. It was piloted and then rolled out nationally to 10 different health departments,” recalled Spoeth.

A final CDC campaign, Learn the Signs. Act Early. focused on autism, but the word is never used in the campaign. “We knew [from our research] that parents were scared. If you say the word, autism, they will turn around and walk away,” said Spoeth. “We designed a whole book series and in that series we teach parents about milestones [like] reading and other things in life. This is another program that shows the importance of the audience insight and frameworks.”

Spoeth acknowledged that sometimes in today’s environment there isn’t always time to do a lot of consumer research, “so we are finding new ways using technology to get those insights as fast as we can and turn the results around.”

“In summary it’s really about understanding your consumer and making sure you’re really getting to the bottom line of behavior,” she concluded.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta: Getting Georgia’s Children ‘Strong4Life’

The final panelist, Carolina Cruxent, director of Wellness Marketing for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, shared highlights on Children’s phenomenally successful wellness movement, Strong4Life, which began in 2008 as the employee wellness program but which became their wellness brand for parents in 2011.

She said that in 2010, Children’s looked at the biggest health crisis confronting Georgia’s children: the escalating epidemic of childhood obesity.

“Our mission compelled us to make sure that we were doing things – communicating and impacting parents, reminding them there were things they need to do today and every day to change their child’s future,” recalled Cruxent. The goal was to keep children with preventable diseases out of the hospital. “We were treating children with illnesses that were only supposed to be seen in adults.”

Cruxent showed an alarming slide that showed how much illness contributes to healthcare costs. “What people don’t realize is that in the state of Georgia, if we bring down BMI just by 5%, we would save $22.7 billion in healthcare costs over the next 20 years. That gave us yet another reason to act.”

40% of Georgia’s kids are overweight or obese, yet 81% of all Georgia children cannot do sit-ups, pushups and can’t reach average aerobic capacity. “What does that say about our future workforce.. or our military?”

Children’s didn’t just target parents of overweight or obese kids. “It became a conversation with all parents – the parents of 81% of kids who can’t pass basic fitness assessments. It is not a conversation about weight. It’s a conversation about unhealthy habits,” she said.

Strong4Life was born to do two things – first, to prevent unhealthy habits from taking hold in the life of a child, and second, to intervene and treat those children who are already in crisis.

“The first part of our strategy is to arm parents – who are the #1 influencers in the life of a child. We arm them with tricks, tips, resources, facts they didn’t know, education – everything they need to create healthier lifestyles in the home environment. Second, we need to impact the environments outside the home because our children live and learn and play in many other places when they are not at home.”

Cruxent said Strong4Life is involved in school cafeteria and healthcare provider training to help those providers have better conversations with parents, and in community organizations such as parks and recs, Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs.CHOA_YouTubeVideo

From a communications perspective, to change behavior, “we had to start with awareness,” said Cruxent.

In 2011, Children’s started its first campaign to build awareness in Atlanta, and over the next few years rolled out a number of promotions, including movie theater advertising and grocery store ads reminding parents that everything they put in their shopping cart was going to go into their children, as well as takeovers on major websites citywide, and ad bags in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The healthcare leader also ran TV and radio spots and one video, “Rewind the Future,” of a 32-year-old heart attack victim being rushed into an ER operating room, was shot using the first person POV approach with a body-mounted camera. Cruxent said it went viral – with almost 19 million views worldwide.

Children’s then researched how to evolve their communications for the greatest impact on behavior change. “We talked to thousands of parents and we’ve uncovered insights on what makes parents tick, what their barriers are and what their motivators are,” Cruxent recalled.

One insight came as no surprise to the wellness team: “Every parent wants their child to be as healthy as they can be,” said Cruxent, who noted that it was more difficult to grasp that half of these parents “didn’t think there was a problem to deal with.” “They didn’t see unhealthy habits in their own home.”

How does one communicate to a group of people who don’t see a problem but who are also at various stages of awareness and readiness to change? That’s what faced the communications pros at Children’s. “Understanding those barriers helped us create an approach that was not one size fits all, but also wasn’t going to be as costly as having different ad campaigns to impact parents at different stages of readiness,” Cruxent noted, explaining that her team recognized how “seriously overwhelmed” parents were.

“We had to find the one thing that all these parents would respond to – a need for convenience.”

Children’s created content that was relevant to every parenting challenge – content that it called “stealth health.”

“Stealth health for us was all about ensuring that we could give the parent an immediate return on investment for time spent on content that was relevant to them today,” she said.

Cruxent said it was also critical for the program to offer parents “meaningful mobile moments.” “If our content can’t be delivered to a parent’s mobile device where they need it, when they need it, in context and in a way that delivers an immediate benefit to them, we can’t make a meaningful impact on these parents,” said Cruxent, describing content delivered via mobile as “snackable nuggets.”

According to Cruxent, the team has generated 1,650 pieces of original digital content over the last three years. Examples include “The Healthy Eats Hoax” – which shed light that some of the processed foods brought into the house have ingredients parents don’t realize is in the food — and ”Six Surprising Supermarket Secrets” – about the areas of the store to avoid if one wants to stay healthy.

A sign that the Children’s wellness team is hitting the mark is that compared to 2011 and 2015, the number of visits to the website has grown from 10,000 to 700,000 annually, and from 38% of parents saying they were ready today to make a change to 53% saying they are ready to make healthy changes in the home.

Cruxent credited the hard work of her team, which has grown from two members to eight full-time staff since the program launched.

PruittHealth: Making Dreams Come to True

Volpe concluded the panel sharing how PruittHealth helped ensure that its’ loving, giving and caring culture “is instilled and inspired regularly into the hearts and minds of our employees, while at the same time, creating unique experiences for their patients as they face the end of their life.

PruittHealth’s Committed to Caring Program (C2C) enables both by asking elderly patients what their lifelong dream was, and trying to make that happen for them, explained Volpe, describing C2C as a Make a Wish Foundation program for older people.

PruittHealth_SecondWindDreams2“Every year we have internal competition for all the nursing care centers to find candidates for this program and execute their dreams, make it real, videotape it and submit it for an internal companywide contest. The facilities get prize money.”

Volpe shared a video highlighting some of these experiences, showcasing how one resident was able to fly a plane, another got to be a firefighter, and still another become deputized as a sheriff (as his father was years earlier).

In an audience Q&A following the presentation, the presenters were asked what they found most gratifying about healthcare communications.

“For me it’s impacting our children’s future,” said Cruxent. “As a mother I have often woken up and said, ‘how lucky am I to work in a place that does such incredible things for children. How lucky am I to find a role that actually deals with preventable disease.”

Spoeth agreed, “I think the campaigns I worked on that have been the most rewarding were the ones I got to really know that target audience and walk in their shoes and understand how much what we were doing was needed and how it could impact a much broader group. I feel lucky that I can get up every day and make an impact and can work on different topic areas. That has kept me fresh and excited what I get today every day.”

Volpe “What has really struck me is that some of the award winners (on the video) passed away after getting to do that. There are some stories like that. Imagine bringing that kind of joy to someone at the end of their life. This is also a part of society (the elderly) who is largely forgotten in some families.”

IABC Members React to Panel

“I think it’s one of the best presentations all year. For the work I’m in, at CDC it was just incredibly applicable, hearing some real cases studies and how they overcame challenges was really useful.” –JoEllen Saei-Lane, Senior Communications Specialist, Karna/CDC

It’s always good to see communicators share real-world stories so you can see how skills get applied in different industries. Not being in the healthcare space, I found it pretty intriguing how each presenter met different challenges and applied their strategic thinking to communication solutions. In particular, some of the information shared from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was interesting in that they had to discover what the barriers were that prevent people from adopting healthy behaviors and how they can change their communication tactics to overcome those barriers and ultimately change those behaviors.” – Lawson Cox, Senior Vice President, EventStreams

“I saw internal communications become external communications and I’ve seen that twice. They developed these internal campaigns that were so good that they became external. I think that was interesting. I love this group (IABC) because you get so much information in just an hour to an hour and a half. I sat next to someone who just started at 3M in the healthcare group and she said, ‘I just got four ideas, sitting here.’” – Quinn Brack, 15+ Year Marketing Veteran

ABOUT THE AUTHORAnneWainscott-SargentHS

Anne Wainscott-Sargent is an Atlanta-based communications strategist, storyteller and author. Find her online at http://annewainscott.com/writing-consulting-services/ or on Twitter @annewainscott.

What Do You Know about the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta?

An interview with Robin Ratliff and Susan Berthelot from the Public Affairs department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the presenters at the April 2016 IABC Atlanta speaker series.

By Uzo Amajor, Special to IABC Atlanta

Be honest. What do you actually know about the Federal Reserve (the Fed)? What do you know about what it is, what it isn’t, and how it works? What have you heard about it? How do you feel about it? It’s interesting how little people know about this complex yet important institution—the nation’s central bank.

At the April 26th IABC Atlanta luncheon, Robin Ratliff and Susan Berthelot from the Public Affairs department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will help bring clarity to the work of the Fed and share their experiences as its key external and internal communicators.

Fed-Image1One aspect of communications that Robin and Susan manage is telling the story of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, by regularly clarifying “Fed vs. Fiction.” So, as you anticipate tomorrow’s luncheon, here are their top five (nonfiction) clarifications about the Fed:

  1. The Federal Reserve is audited. The Fed is transparent, and is audited routinely. The Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. and the 12 regional Reserve Banks are subject to both internal and external audits, including audits by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The Fed also reports regularly to Congress through hearings, reports and reviews. Audits are one way the Fed fosters safe and responsible banking practices.
  2. The Fed is accountable to the American people, not Wall Street. Reserve Banks are independently governed by regional boards of directors who are selected by banks within their communities and the Fed’s Board of Governors. Our directors provide a Main Street perspective, represent the economic diversity in their communities, and help inform economic policy. This structure underscores the political independence of the Fed, and its commitment to public interest.
  3. The Fed is an independent, nonpartisan organization. The Fed is an independent entity within government – subject to oversight through congressional hearings, reports, reviews and audits. Its structure enables the Fed’s monetary policy decisions to be free of short-term political pressures.
  4. Our nation’s currency and coin is issued, stored, distributed, and inspected by the Fed. The Federal Reserve distributes currency and coin to banks and ensures U.S. currency is genuine and fit for recirculation. But it does not print or mint money – that’s the work of the U.S. Treasury.
  5. The Fed works to ensure a stable and sound economy. The Fed manages the nation’s money supply to keep inflation low and help the economy grow, but it does not manage the nation’s fiscal policy. The fed also supervises financial institutions to help protect our nation’s financial system, and safeguards the integrity and efficiency of our payments systems.




RobinRatliff_smallRobin Ratliff is assistant vice president and public information officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. She is responsible for the Bank’s external communications, including media and government relations, executive speeches, social media, and the external website. She also oversees the writing, editing, and communication consulting functions within Public Affairs and plays a leadership role in the Bank’s internal, executive and crisis communications.

Prior to joining the Atlanta Fed in 2012, Robin was assistant vice president and strategic communications officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. There, she administered business advisory councils and served as assistant corporate secretary. Robin has additional experience with the Federal Reserve System’s Retail Payments Office and also managed employee communications for National City Bank (now part of PNC).

In 2009, Robin was named Communicator of the Year by the Cleveland Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

Robin earned a bachelor’s degree in English and German from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, and has completed executive development courses at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and the Darden School, University of Virginia. She is the proud mom of two grown children, Geoffrey and Julia Byrne.


SusanBerthelot_smallSusan Bradbury Berthelot joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in 2013 as director of internal communications on the Public Affairs team. She and her team oversee internal, executive, and digital communications for the Federal Reserve’s Sixth District.

Susan’s career before the Fed included 25 years in Atlanta in a variety of public affairs and communication management roles at organizations including AT&T/BellSouth, Cox Enterprises, and Aon Hewitt. She began her career as a photojournalist for daily newspapers, where she enjoyed covering sports events such as the Atlanta Hawks, Braves, and Falcons. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.

Susan proudly served on the Board of IABC/Atlanta from 2003-2005 and participated as an IABC member for many years in various capacities. She and her communications teams have received more than 40 IABC/Atlanta Golden, Silver and Bronze Flame Awards and one IABC International Gold Quill Award. Her favorite accomplishment in life is being the mom of Caitlin and James Bradbury.

Social Media Strategies That Work for Business

An interview with IABC Atlanta speakers, Jessie Ford and Christina Edwards, of Birds of a Feather Creative, to hear their thoughts on what makes a great social media strategy.

Q: Have you found any differences among types of companies or industries in people’s understanding of social media for business purposes? If so, what do you attribute the discrepancies to?


Every industry and business can benefit from social media marketing. There isn’t one type of industry that we have come across that seems to be more averse to understanding the benefit of social media. However, some industries, primarily in the B2B space, are more hesitant when it comes to any sort of change. Opening up your business to social media can really change the entire dynamic of your marketing strategy.

Q: Have you seen the concept of ROI for social media really catch on yet? How do you measure ROI for something like social media and PR??
Absolutely. Measuring the ROI of your social networks is completely necessary to ensure that your audience is engaging with the content that you’re creating. There are many sophisticated listening tools that social media industry pros use to audit ROI. However, most businesses can use the tools that the social networks inherently provide such as reach, views, and engagement.

Social_CitiesQ: What advice do you have to B2B marketers who have to convince their more conservative colleagues to embrace social media for the B2B arena?

We believe that businesses should utilize their social platforms like they do magazines or newspapers. If you aren’t using social platforms to communicate about your new products, systems, awards, and happenings, then you’re missing an opportunity to think outside of the B2B box. Social media is where sales begin and end.

: What do you envision as the next stage of social media (social media 3.0)?

We think Social Media 3.0 is already here! People around the world make their living solely by creating content on their personal social media networks. YouTube, Vine, Periscope and Instagram make it completely possible to have a lucrative career in social media.

Q: Any other thoughts or advice for aspiring social media mavens?
Identify your goals and commit to a realistic plan. Consistency is so important to grow and retain a captive audience. Take a look at what posts perform best on what networks and incorporate that into your strategy as you grow. Have fun, take risks, and use emojis… just not too many at one time! We’re looking forward to talking more specifically about engaging social media communities at the upcoming IABC luncheon.



Christina-EdwardsHSChristina Edwards maintains relationships with some of the country’s most influential brands, organizations, and thought leaders. As one of Atlanta’s top social media strategists, Christina helps give her clients an edge by integrating social media platforms into multi-dimensional campaigns. With a strong belief in entrepreneurship, Christina excels at consulting business owners on increasing financial growth through creative strategies, team building, and branding development.





Jessi-FordHSJessi-Ford is passionate about content creation and the power of a perfectly written post, blog, press release, or caption, Jessi Ford is one of Atlanta’s most experienced public relations and social media strategists. With a knack for communication, Jessi works well with business owners across a spectrum of industries, creating branding, marketing, and social campaigns tailored to fit a variety of demographics. Jessi believes that every business has a compelling story and she strives to successfully find a unique way to use today’s modern social media and marketing platforms to tell it



In Case You Missed It…

Going for the Gold: Three IABC Golden Flame Winners Share Tips for Award-winning Entries

By Anne Wainscott-Sargent, Special to IABC Atlanta


Kristi Burris, Amec Foster Wheeler; Eric Berrios, Realm; and Michelle Thernes, IHG

What do a “day-in-the-life” employee video series, an engineering technical summit and an aluminum can sustainability campaign all have in common?

They were 2015 winners of IABC Atlanta’s Golden Flame Awards. The professional communicators, Michelle Thernes with IHG, Kristi Burris with Amec Foster Wheeler, and Eric Berrios with Realm Advertising, each presented thoughtful and inspiring highlights of their gold-worthy communications programs during the February IABC Atlanta luncheon.

The timing has never been better to talk about the Atlanta chapter’s biggest awards event, given that that the Golden Flames will now be held in the fall to coincide with the IABC Southern Region Conference coming to Atlanta in October. That means communications pros will need to begin to plan their applications this spring to meet the summer submission deadline.

IHG: Bringing the Brand to Life through the Day-in-the-Life of Employees

Thernes started things out by discussing IHG’s Day in the Life video series launched in 2013 to support the company’s People Priorities – helping promote employee pride and engagement by celebrating front-line colleagues and their stories in each of IHG’s branded hotels. The hotel company of more than 350,000 employees worldwide has 1,600 employees in just its Americas headquarters office in Atlanta, Thernes said, adding, “We wanted to show real-life examples of outstanding team members to inspire those within our hotels, as well as our corporate colleagues, who are often disconnected from our front-line teams.”

InterContinental_Hotels_Group logo“We took a strategic approach to show each employee as a whole person and show how each brand is unique. We followed the employee through key moments of their day,” she said, noting that every video had a direct alignment to IHG’s business priorities and “winning metrics.” IABC members then watched one of the videos featuring Fred Flood, maintenance engineer for the Staybridge Suites in Fargo, North Dakota.

Thernes said a key to the success of the campaign was “creating a series that would have multiple uses within IHG, from inspiration to training and recruiting.”

Amec Foster Wheeler: Inspiring Collaboration & Innovation through a Tech SummitAmecFosterWheeler_logo

Burris next shared the process she went through in organizing a highly engaging summit for employees in her engineering consulting firm’s Environment & Infrastructure business based in the Americas. “We wanted to provide a hands-on experience and learning of best practices to increase engagement, collaboration and knowledge among our employees,” recalled Burris, who led the planning of the two-day event that attracted 250 employees the second week of November 2014.

At the meeting, 15 “rising stars” gave 15-minute presentations. A hands-on Innovation Expo highlighted several of the company’s patented technologies. She believes the cross-teaming that came from the meeting helped fuel first quarter 2015 results that showed a 22% increase in average project size and sales growth exceeding 110% of targets.

Realm: Starting a Sustainability Movement, One Beer Can at a Time

Berrios with Realm Integrated Marketing then shared his firm’s “big guy versus big guy campaign” to introduce a new and much more environmentally friendly aluminum can to beer makers. The product, marketed as evercan™ by client Novelis, the world’s largest recycler of aluminum cans, is made from 90% certified recycled materials while average cans today use only 30 to 40% recycled content.

Evercan_Beer-Direct-Mail_RealmThe product, Berrios explained, would disrupt the market for aluminum cans and “should be the best thing ever introduced to the beverage industry.” The company first pitched major canners but they weren’t interested in a disrupting the current supply chain, and refused to share evercan with major beverage brands. That’s when Realm took the can to a specialty market – craft beer makers, who are very sustainability focused.

Over the one-year campaign, from 2014 to 2015, Realm Advertising strived to build brand awareness and “plant the seeds of a movement.” It piloted the program first with Red Hare Brewing Company in Marietta, Georgia.

“We educated the market through billboards, at tradeshows and direct mail – even sending a direct mail beer,” recalled Berrios, who admitted that this was his favorite campaign of his career. The goal was to build understanding and get people to engage in the conversation. The results were promising: four times’ the industry click throughs for ads related to evercan and four craft breweries chose to adopt the product.

Following their presentations, the speakers then shared these tips for creating a winning IABC Golden Flame entry:

  • Understand and explain your target audience
  • Set measurable goals and objectives
  • Use the entry to tell your story in a way that is easy to follow and maintains interest
  • Paint a compelling picture of the need and opportunity
  • Share your outcomes /metrics – cite proof points of success
  • Ensure your outcomes align with your goals and objectives
  • Include strong visuals and/or work samples
  • Conduct a peer-review of your entry

To learn more about IABC Atlanta and the annual Golden Flame Awards, visit the chapter website at http://atlanta.iabc.com/.

ABOUT THE AUTHORAnneWainscott-SargentHS

Anne Wainscott-Sargent is an Atlanta-based communications strategist, storyteller and author. Find her online at http://annewainscott.com/writing-consulting-services/ or on Twitter @annewainscott.

In Case You Missed It…

Video as Story: Mountain View Group Shares Best Practices in Digital & Video Communications at IABC Atlanta’s First Meeting of 2016

By Anne Wainscott-Sargent, Special to IABC Atlanta

Mountain View Group, an award-winning Atlanta-based creative communications agency founded in 1981 by a documentary filmmaker, wowed professional communicators this week with their insights on the power of video storytelling.

“Story is ultimately about affecting change – it could be change in what someone knows…it could be change in what someone believes…and it could be change in what one does,” Thom Gonyeau, Mountain View Group’s principal and founder told IABC Atlantans during the organization’s first meeting of 2016. “Story is the means, and change is the end.”

Gonyeau, a creative storyteller for over 20 years, was joined by principal Stephen Pruitt, as they shared the keys to engaging people’s hearts and minds in today’s video age.

Noting that “a very high value is placed on video content,” Gonyeau cited a statistic from B2B Marketer that over 80% of B2B marketers now rely on video content in their annual communication plans, posting video via corporate websites, YouTube, video blogs and even six-second Vines. ChiefMarketer.org, reports an even higher percentage of video usage at around 96%. “In the B2C space, you are talking about 100%,” he added.

Gonyeau called the “holy grail’ of video storytelling is when companies take a long-term approach to their video strategy rather than doing one-off videos.

“One thing we’ve learned is that no one really needs a video. What you need is a solution to a business problem,” said Pruitt, explaining that is how his firm always starts conversations with new clients. “If you start to think that way about your video content or any creative content, you start to think more strategically about your message and what you need that content to do for you.”

Pruitt explained that video isn’t always the best communication tool if one needs to present a lot of detailed information. But it’s a great medium to excite, engage and emotionally connect with people. “Video can stir the imagination – it’s a great vehicle to showcase people, places…it’s also a great way to motivate people to want to learn more,” he said.

One thing is clear, Mountain View Group knows its stuff. Pruitt said the team tackles an average of 150 projects a year, from corporate videos, animation and commercials to graphic design, communications strategy planning to social media. Last year at the IABC Atlanta’s annual Golden Flame Awards, the Inman Park creative firm won eight Golden Flames for their work.

Gonyeau said there are three ideal times for a video story: at the birth of a new company, when a company is going through major change, and when it is facing real challenges. In the case of change, video can “bring some certainty to the chaos.” During times of challenge there’s “an incredible opportunity to use story in an authentic and purposeful way to get your message out there,” he said.

MVGPrincipalsMountain View’s team of 15 full-time creatives takes a process-driven approach to helping their clients strategically think about their video project. They start with the “Creative Brief” – a consensus-building tool that enables client and agency to jointly define the project deliverables and the purpose and objectives, including audience and key messages.

Gonyeau considers the purpose and objectives “the real meat” of the brief. It’s where he asks clients, “Why this?” “Why now?” “What’s changed?” It’s also when the agency helps the clients define the creative challenge of “What do you want the audience to think, feel and do?”

From the Project Brief, Mountain View’s team defines their client’s story. A storytelling worksheet helps the process along – it embraces the classic three-act screenplay structure, including the concept of a hero.

An important detail is distribution of the video, leveraging a company’s internal and external social media, video and PR channels. “Too many people leave this as an afterthought,” said Pruitt. “When you tell stories with video, you are making an investment and you want to make sure you are getting the most out of that investment. Creating a multi-channel distribution plan is the way to do that.”

He advised, “Look at what the core communication channels are to reach the target audience, whether it’s internal, external, corporate marketing, PR, social media. You can figure out which ones to take the most advantage of and which ones you didn’t think of to get this message out. Then, once you have the distribution plan mapped out, promote it.”

Mountain View’s principals then shared examples of their agency’s video work from clients such as Coca-Cola, Raytheon and GE. Check out videos showcasing:

The two presenters summed up their talk by sharing a quote by Seth Godin: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Following the presentation, communication pros shared their impressions:

  • “I loved the talk and the Creative Brief leave-behind in how to construct a story. Very worthwhile!” – Scott Dixon, President, CATMEDIA
  • “The most valuable takeaway from the talk was the necessity of doing a Creative Brief and to know the one key message you’re going to give. In my experience working as freelancer for corporate clients, we sometimes forget to ask, ‘What is your objective?’ ‘Why do you need a video?’”- Elisabeth Holmes, The Writing Studio
  • “The point that no one needs a video; what they need is a solution to a problem, really stood out for me because it brings everything back to the business and keeps us focused, allowing us to drive the business forward. “ – Uzo Amajor, Internal Communications Manager

ABOUT THE AUTHORAnneWainscott-SargentHS

Anne Wainscott-Sargent is an Atlanta-based communications strategist, storyteller and author. Find her online at http://annewainscott.com/writing-consulting-services/ or on Twitter @annewainscott.