Design is Personal

By | Blog

By Amy Lasagna

As the saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

For creative professionals who turned their passion into a career, design can be deeply personal because there’s no way to separate yourself from the original or innovative work you create. While it’s true that design is not art, designers still work in an inherently creative medium and the decisions they make are informed by their uniqueness as individuals; sometimes, the lines blur.

Creativity in all its forms comes from passion of the mind. It’s influenced by our interests, surroundings, and experiences. Much like artists, designers infuse their work with their own visual style. After all, beautiful design often contains elements of artistic inspiration. When we start to think of design in terms of aesthetics it certainly seems fair to equate the two. The difference is that designers must leverage their abilities in a thoughtful way, so their work can serve its purpose. The deliverable must be built with intent; there needs to be strategy behind the decisions made. For many designers, the fun is in the small win of problem solving.

Assessing the effectiveness of a design then becomes the litmus test for evaluating the designer. If decisions seem to have been based on subjectivity or intuition, they aren’t practicing design; they are practicing art. However, if a designer can regularly support their decisions with sound rationale they are indeed practicing design. But satisfying the business need doesn’t have to mean boring creative, though. The opposite is true. Business demands good, impactful design. A good designer can hold a project close and still deliver work that is on point. If you’re a business leader reading this, I would say that’s your take-away.

If Content is King, then Distribution is Queen

By | Blog

Why a seasoned public relations team is more essential than ever in today’s shrinking media landscape

By: Diana Costello

2019 has gotten off to a brutal start for the media industry.

In just the past few weeks, as many as 2,100 people have lost jobs in the field, according to recent report published in New York. And even more have been reported since then.

These writers, reporters, editors, photographers and others are not just a statistic – they are close friends and insanely talented professionals. Many have dedicated their entire careers – plus personal lives, weekends and holidays – to their craft on behalf of the communities they serve.

Their loss is also all of ours. 

In the world of public relations, a shrinking media pool poses certain obvious challenges.

Having fewer people and fewer outlets available to cover your clients’ news makes it harder to secure that precious coverage. That’s where thoughtful, targeted pitches, tried-and-true relationships and quick and reliable turnarounds are essential.

At Thompson & Bender, a firm with over 30 years of experience, that’s our bread and butter.

Yet at the same time, today’s changing media landscape also poses opportunities for all of us in public relations.

Yes, the cliché is true: “Content is King.” But these days, I’d argue that “Distribution is Queen.” And just as in chess, the queen is arguably the most powerful piece.

Public relations revolves around quality content, but the means of distributing that content in today’s diverse, social and open media landscape is just as paramount. And that’s where Thompson & Bender’s nimble team can help take your business and brand to the next level. 

Let’s say your content starts out as a press release. Pretty standard for public relations. We pitch that press release to local, regional and maybe even national media outlets and you get great news coverage. Score! But that’s just the start.

That press release should also be repurposed into multiple social media posts – with photos for sure but if you really want to stand out, we can add short videos as well. Another score! Because anyone who’s ever managed a social media account knows that finding relevant, engaging and exciting content on a daily basis takes work – and time!

Next? We’ll take all of this beautiful content and design it into a Constant Contact or MailChimp. Now you have an email marketing campaign, too. Brilliant!

Just don’t forget we’ll also have to update your website. It’s so important to optimize your content and soak up all of those valuable keywords to help boost your “SEO” – or Search Engine Optimization – so that you appear high in an internet search.

When put together, each piece of this new public relations puzzle ultimately showcases a company that is thoughtful, engaging, professional, modern and responsive. And that is where the opportunity and the value of a wholistic public relations strategy lies. In the face of today’s shrinking media landscape, a seasoned public relations team becomes even more essential.

The irony, of course, is that all of these skills are best honed in a newsroom.

Guess what? Thompson & Bender was founded by journalists and employees a team of award-winning former reporters, producers and editors, making this your one-stop shop for any and all public relations, marketing, social media and advertising needs.

We live for this stuff, so you don’t have to! You’ve got a business to run!

Relationships….and no I’m not talking eHarmony

By | Blog

By: Debbie Pizzino

I know, I know, I know…I’m an integrated media planner and I’m not writing about media?? Well, I thought about it and I was going to write about 2019 media trends, but what can I write about that you don’t know? Digital spend is skyrocketing…. Mobile will continue to spike…. Print spend is declining. Truthfully, that pretty much sums up every article I’ve read.

What media execs don’t talk about are the relationships we build over the years, in my case over the past 25+ years (I know, I’m dating myself), that are the most important part of our day-to-day work

As one of my old bosses once said… “You get a lot more bees with honey, than you do with vinegar” …. a saying I’ve never forgotten and one I take with me everywhere I go.

Seven Degrees of …. Media?

Let’s face it, we spend A LOT more time at work and with our coworkers than we do at home with our families. So, creating relationships – STRONG, HEALTHY,FUN, MOTIVATING, ENERGIZING- relationships are important. More important, is maintaining those relationships through challenges and differences.

When you start to think about all the relationships we Agency folk have, it can be overwhelming. From an integrated media buyer and planner’s perspective, relationships are the key to a successful career. Let’s look at just a few of the relationships that I encounter each day……

  • Coworkers, Colleagues, Cube Mates
    • To me, it’s vital that you get along with your coworkers. Here at T&B we have three ‘teams’ if you will. One third of the Agency is our Public Relations team, the second third is our Creative team, and the last third is the Media/Advertising/Social team. For the success of T&B, it’s so important that we are all able to connect with one another and work holistically. Essentially, we make up ONE team: the one team that gets it done. These are the people that allow you to vent and stress, and who also build you back up after a meeting doesn’t go so well. These relationships are the foundation you build upon- these are the people who are on YOUR TEAM and who have your back.
  • Inter-Agency Teams (a.k.a IAT)
    • I find this Agency structure to be one of the most challenging. Most times those that sit on these teams are not in the same office so conference calls are your go to for relaying account information. What’s challenging is that it’s harder to build relationships with someone you never see or meet. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sat on IAT’s where to this day I haven’t met its members, but I’ve built a great relationships As an Integrated Media Planner and Buyer, I am used to working with and across many different departments. AND, being a people person sure helps. These types of relationships, while  different,  stay with you across jobs- because as we know the advertising and marketing world is a small one.
  • Media Vendors and Partners
    • WOW! This is a huge part of my day- chatting with all my media peeps. I have A LOT of vendors that have been calling me for years – like 10-15 years. This is the part of the  job I enjoy the most to be truthful. It’s such a great feeling to know that you have all these relationships that make you and your job stronger. I LOVE learning all the new opportunities out there for our clients. It’s exciting! I approach this part of my daily job with a very open mind. I never say- no thanks, no time for that. I ALWAYS try to give my media vendors my attention. I try to get back to them in a timely manner and I always try to keep them up-to-date on plans and RFP’s and clients. I try to have all media vendors in- meet with them, put a face to a name and build that relationship. This type of relationship is truly a give and take. Both sides of the table need to give 100 percent  for this relationship to work and grow, and for it to be mutually beneficial.
  • Clients, Clients and Clients
    • Now a client-media planner relationship is more of a partnership . This relationship needs to be strong and uplifting. Everything I do for my clients, I do with a ‘client’ eye. There is no room for negativity in these types of relationships- you must be aligned. Throughout my career I’ve had many clients- mostly with whom I’ve had great relationships. To this day, I still reach out to them and check in tosee how they are doing. Client relationships are imperative to an Agency.

As you can see, the common thread here…. relationships. We all have them, and they are all different.  Take some time to sit back and think about all the types of relationships you have in your day-to-day, and how they make a difference not only in your professional life but your life in general.

You’ve Booked Your First TV Interview… Now What?

By | Blog

By: Josefa Paganuzzi

You finally get the call from your local television saying that they want to do an interview with you after pitching them since the beginning of the year.  Now what do you do?   The answer is quite simple – PREPARE!

Does a chef go into a busy weekend not having prepped the kitchen properly or a teacher go into class without a lesson plan?  Most likely not, so here are some tips to focus on to make sure you are prepared fully for the big interview!

PREPARING TO MEET THE MEDIA

What do you need to know before the interview?  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use the interview as an opportunity to state your positive, key message points.
  • When necessary, repeat your key message points to increase the likelihood that they will get into the reporter’s notes then in the published story.
  • Remember to say the name of your organization. Don’t refer to it as “we.”
  • Try not to answer with only one word. Use each question as a “Branching off” opportunity.
  • It is best to think you are always “on the record.” Don’t say anything that you don’t want to see appear at a later date.

Because you are preparing for a live interview it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Familiarize yourself with the program and reporter beforehand. Know the format and audience.  Learn the reporter/interviewer’s style.
  • Ask how long an interview will be so you can pace yourself. You want to be sure to get your points across before the interwar says “time’s up.”
  • Keep your sentences short and to the point. In the age of the “sound bite,” it is important to remember that only a few key words may end up in the air.  Choose your words carefully.
  • Keep your gestures to a minimum in a TV interview. Too much uncomfortable gesturing will detract from what you are trying to say.
  • Look at the reporter, not the camera.
  • Be aware of how you are sitting/standing and how you are dressed.
  • If a reporter comes to your office, identify an area to film ahead of time that best exemplifies what you do.
  • Don’t repeat a negative point, comment, or question. When you are being taped it can be edited and can be taken out of context so that is sounds as I you made the negative remark.

Keep in mind that news packages usually run for 1:15 to 2:00 in length. There is no guarantee that all or any of what you say will ever appear on air, so don’t worry about sounding repetitive in answers!

Once the story airs, be sure to send a thank you email to the reporter.  Also, share the segment on social media and tag the station and reporter.  They can then see how your social audience is engaged and might even call you back to be interviewed again!

And most importantly remember to be yourself and have fun!

Is Social Media Right for Your Business?

By | Blog

By: Karina Yucel

Long story short…yes. In 2019, not using social media for your business is like using a horse and buggy to get around while everyone else is in sports cars.

In a recent survey of marketers, 90% said social media has increased their business exposure and 66% say spending 6 hours a week on social media has increased their leads. Who couldn’t use more business?

Need some more reasons for why your business should be using social media?
• 54% of consumers use social media to research new products
• 62% of consumers are more likely to buy after seeing social content
• 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions
• 78% of people said that social media posts of companies influence their buying decisions

These stats are great…but what does it mean for your business?
The great thing about the internet is that it makes the world a smaller place and social media can only increase your presence in the digital world. Out of the 7 billion people on the planet, 3.2 billion of them are using social media – whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or one of the many other platforms available. Social media use is only increasing with every generation:
48% of Baby Boomers, 77% of Gen Xers and 90% of Millennials are using social media. And all these people are using social media on average over 2 hours a day. Just think about all those potential customers!

Of course, not all businesses need to be on every platform. Do some market research to find the platform where your customers are spending their time. At Thompson & Bender we recommend that all clients at least create a Facebook page, over 2/3rds of US adults are on the platform. For brands targeting younger audiences, we suggest also creating an Instagram account. While B2B brands should also create a LinkedIn page.

If that 6 hours a week I mentioned earlier seems daunting, it doesn’t have to be. A basic strategy to get you on your feet is to post at least three times a week. Having a consistent presence on social media is the first step to success!

Liz Bracken-Thompson Named One of WAG Lifestyle’s 40 Fascinating Women

By | Blog

T&B’s Liz Bracken-Thompson was named one of WAG Magazine’s 40 Fascinating Women!

“Winning the ‘Miss Westchester’ crown when she was 19, the perfectly-coiffed Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson has gone on to wear another crown. She’s the undisputed queen of Westchester advertising, a founding partner of the public relations and advertising wizards, Thompson & Bender – think Mad Men and then fast forward 50 years. An original and inspired publicist, if there’s a Westchester community project Liz is not involved with, or a professional local board she has not sat on, we want to know about it.”

To read about all the women on this list, click here.

Thompson & Bender Awarded For Advertising/PR and Social Media in First Ever 914 Inc. Best of Business Awards

By | Awards and Nominations, Blog

Meet Our First Annual Best of Business Award Winners

Local companies were selected as the favorites in their fields, in a wide range of categories like marketing, public relations, business banking, commercial real estate, and more.

Advertising/PR

Thompson & Bender

Briarcliff Manor

www.thompson-bender.com

If there were such a thing as a territorial monopoly in the PR/ad game, Thompson & Bender would be a virtual lock within the borders of Westchester County. Led by partners Dean Bender, Geoff Thompson, and Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson, T&B, as it is known colloquially, is a full-service agency staffed by highly experienced Westchester-savvy professionals who understand all aspects of the marketing/branding philosophy. In addition to its award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns, T&B offers service divisions in PR and crisis communications, creative and digital services, and special-events planning and promotion. Its elite clientele are too numerous to name, but they include institutions of not only local but national and even international prominence.

 

Social Media Services

Thompson & Bender

Briarcliff Manor

www.thompson-bender.com

Thompson & Bender is the county’s largest and most well-established PR/advertising firm for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include a cutting-edge, industry-forward approach to social-media strategies that exploit and maximize all the unique advantages of online and digital platforms, including branding, web and mobile development, design and production, and broadcast production, with search-engine-optimized applications that cut through the morass of branding content and messaging.

Read more here

People Remember Eventful Experiences, Not Events

By | Blog

By: James Guiney

News flash: Branding and communication channels beyond traditional media are growing faster than Odell Beckham Jr.’s paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a valid place for the conventional press release and traditional media but to build meaningful relationships for your company and for a client’s brand, you need to broaden your marketing reach.

As someone who spends his days (and nights) organizing and executing events for prominent organizations, I have an appreciation for the significant impact personalized experiences have on growing brand awareness and increasing customer lifetime value. Whether it is a free activation that embodies a rebranding campaign, a community event that develops partnerships, or a week-long food festival that annually attracts thousands of potential customers, I’ve seen firsthand how brands are increasingly utilizing customized experiences to promote products/services and directly enhance the lives of a company’s target consumers.

According to a 2017 study by The Freeman Company and SSI (via Skift), 59% of chief marketing officers recognize brand experience “for its ability to create ongoing relationships with key audiences.” Hence, it should come as no surprise that more money is being spent on live events: more than one in three of the surveyed executives said they expect to allocate “21 to 50 percent of their budgets to brand-experience marketing over the next three to five years.”

With budgets transitioning from traditional advertising and media to an experiential approach, superseded in terms of marketing growth only by digital marketing, I feel it is important to highlight a few key learnings about experiential market that are worth keeping in mind when developing an event strategy for your own company or client.

First and foremost, remember that managing a successful event does not fall on one particular department. You must budget and account for the operational set-up and breakdown of the event (venue, rentals, refreshments, vendors, sponsors, staffing, etc), marketing across all available communication channels (email, social media, paid advertising, etc.), production of creative content (flyers, signage, schedules, info cards, etc.), public relations with important media outlets and community leaders (paid media, earned media, politicians, influencers, etc.) as well as the tracking of key performance indicators for reporting and analysis (RSVPs, attendance count, ticket sales, email addresses gathered, social shares, media placements, collateral distributed, etc.).

Jenna Marone, executive vice president of lifestyle at United Entertainment Group, put it best when she told Ad Age, “Experiential humanizes a brand to a consumer. It gives them intimate access. It allows them to tell unique stories.” The overarching goal of any brand’s experiential marketing is to convert the target audience into brand advocates who share stories about their beneficial experience and refer said brand to their friends and followers. With the prevalence of social media, modern audiences and market influencers are driven to share positive content across their own platforms (essentially word-of-mouth) when it enhances their personal brand.

So, it is important to tailor event experiences to the interests of your target consumers and early adopters in an effort to best serve their needs – and remember, the more fun and creative the experience the better!

Events that are properly planned present at least 10 to 15 opportunities to connect with your audience: The save-the-date; the invitation; the reminder email; the check-in table and other staff interactions at the event itself; on take-home collateral; the sweepstakes (for gathering contact information); the follow-up email; social media interactions; and the owned and earned media to name a few.

Ultimately, an authentic brand experience is the perfect way to complement existing PR/media campaigns and bring a brand’s identity, image and personality to life. If you’re interested in organizing such an event to enhance your target audience’s relationship with your brand, please do not hesitate to contact the professionals at Thompson & Bender!

T&B Named to City and State’s Westchester Power 100

By | Blog, News

The City and State Power 100 highlights the movers and shakers who are shaping Westchester’s future.

Thompson & Bender

This trio handles it all for big-name clients like New York-Presbyterian, Westchester County Parks, ArtsWestchester and the Archdiocese of New York: public relations, crisis management, marketing, special events and government relations. Dean Bender and power couple Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and Geoff Thompson co-founded the agency in 1987, bringing with them experience at what is now The Journal News. Outside the office, each of the three partners serves on various Westchester-area boards and organizations.

 

Read about all the Westchester Power 100 here