The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership and Hodges Digital Strategies.
May 16, 2013 | by Lindsay Grant
It’s always nice when you can add “award-winning” in front of words like ‘agency’ and ‘campaign.’ And last night at the Virginia Public Relations Awards, put on by PRSA Richmond, we were honored to be able to add some more award-winning work to our portfolio.
Kudos to all of our PRSA friends who took home top awards this week. We may not have taken home Best in Show this year but we’re grateful to our clients who brought us these interesting and fun projects. Below are some details on our award-winning clients and work that took home a few statues last night.
- Award of Excellence
- Move Pro iPhone/iPad app
- Client: Hilldrup Moving & Storage
Hodges Digital Strategies and Hilldrup developed a user-friendly app that adhered to Hilldrup’s brand standards and could be developed within the parameters of the iOS. Based on frequent customer requests, the app was built to include helpful features like storage box inventory, shipment tracking, currency convertor, friends & family new address notifications, how-to moving articles and videos, and links to set up local utilities. With more than 2,000 downloads since launching, the app averages 208 downloads per month.
- Award of Merit
- Creative Capital: Fill in the Blank Corridor
Josh Dare thinks Interstate 95 could use a makeover – especially the part that runs through the heart of Downtown Richmond. Once he had this idea, he got to work. An OpEd in the Richmond Times-Dispatch started the conversation and from there the idea has spread. Multiple articles appeared after his initial OpEd, he received countless emails in support of the idea and a committee has been formed among some of Richmond’s elite influencers to make the corridor represent Richmond’s rich history, bright future and unique personality.
- Award of Merit
- Small Voices, Big Dreams
- Client: ChildFund International
Small Voices, Big Dreams is the ChildFund International’s annual survey that identifies the hopes, dreams and fears of children across the globe. The Hodges Partnership used the new data and was able to secure interviews and stories with Reuters, CBS Radio, USA Today, Richmond Times-Dispatch and several other outlets.
- Award of Merit
- Clear Skies Ahead 2012 Newsletter Campaign
- Client: Chesapeake Bank
Long-time client Chesapeake Bank asked The Hodges Partnership to help improve its readership metrics for its Clear Skies Ahead newsletter. By setting achievable click-through and open rate goals (25% and 11%, respectively) and a incorporating a fresh approach to content that touched on key messages and, more importantly, topics that the readership cared about, the needle began to move. Since the new changes were implemented, the Clear Skies Ahead newsletters surpassed click-through and open rate goals each month.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
May 08, 2013 | by Tony Scida
It’s time to emphasize the CHALLENGE of the Big Idea Challenge. Our two teams at Hodges challenge you to out-wit us at this year’s Big Idea Challenge. We came in second last year and are determined to win it all this year. (Watch out, CarMax!) It’s great fun and great way to support the Community Idea Stations in Richmond! If you think you can take us, sign up at www.BigIdeaChallenge.org.0 commentsPosted in: Richmond
February 24, 2013 | by Jon Newman
Because if a couple of slices of pepperoni leads to what happened on Saturday, I’ll be the one paying for the pizza from now on.
That lunch with John and Aaron Dotson from Elevation Advertising turned into exactly what I hoped it would—a frank, honest, open and sometimes emotional learning experience for dozens of local and regional small business owners.
Like Aaron, our partner in crime, I’m not a big fan of conferences where people talk at you. I have also tired of conferences or events where talk has replaced action. My sense and expectation coming out of TILTED is that action won’t be a problem.
The unconference setting in which the participants doubled as teachers and experts worked as many hoped. It allowed for a frank discussion. It allowed for teaching and learning. It allowed for fun. Most importantly it allowed for participation. By everyone.
From the people who are thinking of starting a business, to those who are going through each of the seven stages of small business that were the focus of my talk (another blog post on that coming), to the small business “experts” who were in the room. No one was shy and that’s why it worked so well.
Some of my highlights:
- Just seeing the 150 or so people in the room just eight weeks after the idea for TILTED was hatched. A credit to the Floricane team and the sponsors (Create Digital, Elevation Advertising, Floricane, Fraser Design, One South Realty, The Hodges Partnership, TMI Consulting, Work It Richmond and Zuula Consulting) for just being able to pull this thing off.
- Listening to RVA restaurateur Kendra Feather whose talk I sought out. Her words have inspired me to not worry as much about what other people think and just do what I think is right.
- Talking to Keya Wingfield of Candy Valley Cake Company (who doesn’t love her cake pops) whose dream of expansion is simultaneously so close yet so far. This is my public promise to try to help her.
- Sharing some of my mistakes and advice with prospective small business owners. (Yes, I like the name “Honey Badger” and you should stick with it and not listen to others.)
- Being humbled by the crowd who came to listen to the “Hodges” story and hoping it was worth the 25 minutes of your time.
- The involvement of Andy Thornton of La Diff fame whose passion and perseverance as not only a small businessman but community leader is an example for all of us.
There are so many images that continue to flash through my brain; the truth is I’m still trying to process all of them.
Ultimately what made the day work was the thing that people starting and running small businesses know more than others that things don’t have to be perfect. The beauty of the unconference and of small business itself is that everyone has a role. If one person is too busy, someone else will pick up the slack. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Messy is good. It’s creative. Things don’t have to be perfect. Each word, while important, doesn’t have to be killed to death. Feedback, even bad feedback, needs to be heard and absorbed and stay out there so others can see it instead of being deleted immediately.
If this feels like a bit of a rant. Well, it is. We spend too much time trying to make things perfect in this town. It was refreshing to be in an imperfect space for a while where people called people out when they felt it was needed. The epiphany quotient was very high. I know I had a few of them.
So now that we’ve been TILTED, what next?
John and his team are doing their usual great job of getting instant feedback on the day, its format and what to do next. For those who received it, please provide that important feedback.
I have a couple of thoughts:
- Do one tangible thing to help someone in small business: Whether you were in the room yesterday or not, this is a noble and easy to achieve goal. Shop there, tell them what you like or don’t like, offer them some advice. They’ll be happy to take it. Spread the word to others if you like it. I’ve already decided what my “thing” is and you’ll be hearing more about it.
- Pass on your knowledge: That was extremely rewarding to me as one of the small business veterans in the group. Every small business owner, no matter what stage they are in, has learning they can pass on.
- While it is human nature of all of us to begin planning “TILTLED 2: The sequel that ate Pittsburgh,” I’m fine with letting this one sit a bit and marinate for a while. I’d rather all of us act on what we learned Saturday. If we all do one thing for someone else, the local small business universe will be changed.
The buzz will be hard to avoid. People will talk about TILTED and others whose business it is to foster the creation and growth of small business will quickly try to replicate it. Please don’t.
Richmond has become a town of replication. If something works for someone else the tendency is for another group to try it. It’s why we’re “over-creating” right now. The replication, while well intended, doesn’t allow the energy for the actual work that should come out of days like TILTED.
Give those who were in the room the other day the “room” to do the actual work that needs to come out of it.
And while you’re at it, can you pass me another slice of pepperoni?2 commentsPosted in: Agency Management | Richmond
January 31, 2013 | by Jon Newman
And I mean that in a truly good way.
The by-product of one recent lunch is TILTED: An RVA Small Business Unconference on Saturday, February 23 at the Times-Dispatch. Here’s the story about the lunch…
Recently the fearless leader of Floricane invited me and Aaron Dotson to his new digs at the Times-Dispatch for pizza and conversation about life, liberty and the current status of our businesses.
To borrow again from Forrest Gump, sometimes you can sum up my experience in running a small business in one phrase: “Stupid is as stupid does.” There are plenty of things that, given the chance, Josh and I would have done differently.
While John’s business is a few years old now, Elevation Advertising, which Aaron started with Frank Gilliam, and THP virtually mirrored each other. Elevation is slightly older than THP (both now older than a decade), but from conversations over the years we recognize that the two businesses have hit similar milestones at similar times. We have also talked about some of the same challenges we’ve had related to things like growth, space, culture, etc.
Our lunch with John quickly focused on those growth issues for small businesses. We’re not talking about incubators or bootstrapping, although we’ve all been through that stage. We’re talking about how to continue climbing the growth ladder, how to deal with things like insurance, how to build a true culture, how to reach outside of Richmond for business growth, how to plan for succession.
While Richmond had done a great job focusing on incubating in recent years, those of us who are past that stage are now focusing on how to make the next big leap.
As the three of us listened and talked, John suggested creating some sort of informal conference of diverse small business owners, managers and experts where the group can share information and all help each other.
The lunch then led to a couple of meetings with a larger group including folks from Create Digital, Elevation Advertising, Floricane, Fraser Design, One South Realty, The Hodges Partnership, TMI Consulting, Work It Richmond and Zuula Consulting. These organizations are now the sponsors of TILTED.
If you run or manage a small business, or if you provide services to small businesses, please come out and participate. There will be lots of conversation and storytelling and only one PowerPoint presentation, promise.
We want to slightly TILT things with breakout sessions, small-group conversations, and workshops identified on the fly.
We’ll supply some of the food, you’ll buy your own lunch but we’ll have some yummy choices from RVA food truck folks.
So if you’re a small business owner, employee or servicers this is your invitation to get TILTED.
See you there.0 commentsPosted in: Agency Management | Richmond
January 15, 2013 | by Julia Salatino
After reading John Reid Blackwell’s article about Millennials struggling to get their ideal job after graduating college, it got me thinking about the job hunt and wondering what students are doing correctly but more importantly, what they are doing wrong (or not doing at all) as they search.
I’m fortunate to work at a company where not only do my bosses regularly give their time to students and recent grads but encourage the rest of us to do the same. Additionally, for the last few years I was the Students Relations Chair for PRSA Richmond and in that role, met with many students to review resumes, help build cover letters, talk about marrying interests with internships and of course, try to answer the million dollar question – how do I land a job?
Here are some of the tips I give to the future members of our profession:
Don’t wait until the last minute.
If you’re graduating in May and start applying for jobs in April with the hopes of landing something by June… good luck. Applying for a job takes much more effort than sending an email or two. Consider it this way: if two people with the exact same qualifications are applying for the same job but one starts 4 months before they graduate while the other applies a month or two out, who do you think will grab the attention of the hiring manager?
Location, location, location.
Determine what cities are in your top three and start your research there. It is certainly harder to find a job in a city that you don't know but it’s absolutely NOT impossible to find a job (and a great one at that) in a city that’s new to you.
At the beginning of your job hunt, Google will be your best friend. Once you’ve decided on where you want to be, start putting that keyboard to work and compile lists of potential employers in each city. Don’t be put off by companies that don’t have listings online – this is a huge mistake. Many companies, especially small agencies (like THP), rely on recommendations from colleagues over posting a job opportunity on their website.
Cover letters, resumes and writing samples… oh my!
As you’re doing your company research, don’t neglect the items that will actually get your foot in the door and grab people’s attention. Make sure that your resume and cover letter are in tip top shape and that you have writing samples ready to provide as well. These writing samples can include articles you’ve written for student newspapers, projects you’ve completed at internships or materials you have from your PR writing course(s).
Once you’ve made your list, it’s time for the fun stuff. Unless you’re applying for a specific job, informational interviews are THE way to go. The point of the meeting is to a) introduce yourself to PR professionals thus beginning to build your network, b) get advice on other companies to look at/people to talk to and c) become a top-of-mind job candidate both for the person you’re meeting with as well as potentially their peers.
Remember a few other things when doing an informational:
- Keep in mind that the people who have agreed to speak with you are taking time out of their busy schedules so do them a courtesy and take notes.
- Be prepared to ask them a handful of questions about their company, the PR community in that city, what would help you stand out against other applicants, etc.
- Finally, don’t leave without asking for the names of three other people to reach out to. Most folks will likely give you names throughout the meeting but if they don’t, it is absolutely 100% okay to ask for this.
This is a term that will play a role throughout your PR career so best to become familiar with it now. At the very least, send a thank you email after every informational or job interview (preferably within 24 hours). If you want to make more of an impact, drop a handwritten note in the mail. Also, don’t be afraid to follow-up with people you’ve met with for informational interviews every few months; this will keep you top of mind and will also help build the relationship.
That’s it (for now) on job hunting; I’ll get off my soapbox. Good luck my future PR peers and may the force be with you.
If you have other tips to add, please leave them in the comment box. Or, if you think I’m totally off my rocker, you can leave those comments too.0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
December 11, 2012 | by Tony Scida
(Editor's note: BTW, I always refer to it as news release. The old TV guy in me. -JN)
Late last month the intersection of technology, journalism and public relations was sent into a tizzy when a number of news sites fell for a phony press release posted to PRWeb in an apparent attempt to game the stock market. While other postulate whether this is a nail in the coffin of PR, journalism, Google News or all of the above (and what’s next), I wanted to talk a bit about the document that got this whole mess started and how we think about them here at The Hodges Partnership: the press release (or news release, if you prefer).
We certainly produce our share of press releases around here, usually in close collaboration with our clients, and they have their uses, including securing approval from corporate legal departments, satisfying federal regulations and highlighting basic facts about a company or campaign. In fact, we create enough press releases that we put a press release pun on our doorbell sign. But, at least for the way we practice PR, the news release is not usually the center of our media relations strategy.
Media relations, stated as simply as possible, is about:
- Helping journalists understand what our clients do, so they can decide whether to write about them
- Helping our clients hone their message or generate newsworthy content that supports their business goals
In some cases, a press release may be the right tactic to achieve those goals, but more often it requires a pitch targeted to specific journalists. If all goes well, we help the journalist do their job and help our clients get their message out to the world. And of course, as important as media relations remains, it is only one tactic in a company’s public relations and social media programs.0 commentsPosted in: Media Relations | Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
November 19, 2012 | by Cameron McPherson
I really love Richmond. I’ve called it home for the past 27 years.
As a Fan-dweller, I enjoy being able to walk to restaurants, parks and the ultimate Richmond destination: my friends’ porches.
The 8-minute drive to The Hodges Partnership is also a perk. How people survive 45 minute commutes, I will never know. As a young professional, our agency has some great perks: flexible schedules, a fun environment, collaborative culture and other things like agency-wide pizza (and beer) brainstorms and an annual baseball outing. This year, I went to my first Orioles game! Which brings up another convenience: Richmond is so close to so much, from mountains and beaches to other cities.
I’m part of YRVA, a project team of about 30 young professionals that aims to survey other young professionals and college students on why they like Richmond and how we can improve it. We’re organized by Richmond’s Future, a nonprofit think tank focused on the future of Richmond. Results from the survey will be made public and will be shared with city leaders and HR professionals at companies around Richmond.
Help us figure out how we can make Richmond a better place. It only takes 15 minutes! Please take one of the surveys below:
Hopefully, we’ll hang out on a Richmond porch one day!
(Editor's note: There was also a great column in the T-D yesterday from publisher Tom Silvestri . Click here to read.)0 commentsPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
June 27, 2012 | by Jon Newman
I know I've been a bit of a slacker on the blog side recently. The truth is I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about the future and the direction of PR and how it fits in the social and digital universe. I've got some posts "written" in my brain and I will share them with you in the near future.
I've also been thinking about the past since THP is celebrating its tenth anniversary this week.
It's been a fun, wild ride so far. Amazing what you can accomplish without a business plan, huh?
So some quick thanks are in order. To my wife Kyra and Josh's wife Rose, thanks so much for being patient with us on this continuing journey. Josh always says we have three levels in our business hierarchy, us...our employees...and on the top rung, Kyra and Rose.
To our co-workers, many thanks for the great work and great times. We've been very fortunate to have had a very low turnover through the years with our first four employees still working with us for many of those ten years. Thanks for taking such good care of us and our clients.
To our clients, we hope we've delivered great work for you. Many of you have been along for most of the ride as well and have become great friends along the way. We hope to continue all those business and personal relationships.
To the Richmond business community, thanks for all the support. We have and work with a lot of great partners who have added to the success of our business. We hope to continue partnering with you as we have always looked at our business as a true "Partnership."
On a truly personal note, I'd like to thank Josh (who hopefully played at least one round of golf on his current trip to Ireland) for being the best "second wife" a guy could ever have. The truth is we barely knew each other ten years ago when we took this leap of faith and I can say on my end that it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I've included the latest edition of our e-newsletter which has a lot of fun info on the ten years and our current staff. Don't forget to take the quiz that's included since one lucky person will win, what else, two tickets to see Springsteen in DC in September (got to be true to the personal brand, right?)
A lot has changed in ten years and we expect more changes in the future. Our plan is to be here for at least the next ten being the best we can be.
That's all we or anyone can ask for, right?1 commentPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | The Hodges Partnership
March 20, 2012 | by Jon Newman
I didn't want to tell anyone before the tournament here in roundball-crazy #RVA for fear they would equate me with Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale.
Richmond and to a greater extent the VCU fan base has reached a critical stage in its current run of basketball success. You see you can't make the Final Four every year or the Sweet Sixteen either. The long-term question is will the recent success create a base of season ticket sales, donations, etc. to propel VCU to higher levels of success? Or will it fall off as the attempt to reach the heights falls short?
Fan bases are fickle. For example at Rutgers, my alma mater, we would give just about anything to just make the NCAA tournament. We haven't been there since 1991. Incredible for a team that made the Final Four just 15 years earlier and was a tournament regular into the early 80s'.
But things change. Coaches move on, fan bases get spoiled, you change leagues or new leagues are formed and blink you go 20 years without a dance.
My Rutgers and VCU lives intersected this year as Vic Cegles invited me and my family to our first Rams home game. I sort of knew Vic's dad when I was a student at Rutgers and he headed up athletic fundraising at the Scarlet R club. Vic was the second baseman for Rutgers Big East champion baseball team a few years ago and is now following in his father's footsteps as the Director of the Ram Athletic Club at VCU.
Thanks Vic, what I witnessed at the Siegel Center was a basketball revival meeting of sorts. The sellout crowd, fans singing soccer-style with the pep band, and a genuine love between the fans and the team. I also witnesses a sold out donor suite populated by a who's who of #RVA movers and shakers wanting to see and be seen. It reminded me of Rutgers in the mid-to-late 70's and 80's. It reminded me that we took that success for granted. It reminded me how quickly things can change.
My hope is that VCU and Richmond as a whole can hang onto this feeling of success as long as we can. We should not be spoiled by it and assume it will occur year after year. As Springsteen would say, We need to stay a bit "wild and innocent." Because things change.
Before we sign off on Richmond March Madness 2012 let's take one last moment to celebrate our success. The worst thing we can do is take it for granted.0 commentsPosted in: Richmond
January 30, 2012 | by Jon Newman
One of the most underrated ways to take advantage of all Twitter has to offer is through one of its many regular chat sessions. These are regularly scheduled sessions related to specific topics that are facilitated by using one of Twitter's famous hashtags. One of my favorite chats is the regular #PR20CHAT which has PR pros around the country responding to specific questions or trends that are posed by facilitators. So it got me thinking why not try this on a local #RVA level. We have a great PR community led by our local PRSA chapter and including great agencies, corporate pros, government PR people and solo practitioners. We also have lots of folks looking to network and break into the business. The national version has allowed me to:
- Share ideas with PR people from around the country
- Meet them on Twitter and follow them for future conversations
- Meet some up and coming PR pros looking to network and break into the business
- Even find some new business along the way
- Make some great friends as we talk PR
So I'm proposed a local Richmond version with the hashtag #PRRVACHAT. The first session will be on Wednesday night, February 8 at 8:00 and go for about an hour. I will be promoting on Twitter and Facebook so please pass the word, RT the tweets, etc. I will likely send out some proposed topics, etc. I great way to follow and participate in the conversation is by using a third-party platform like TweetDeck or Hootsuite and use the #PRRVACHAT hashtag or by using a web-based app like Tweetchat.com and follow the directions. I'm really excited about this because of how much fun I've had on similar chats and I hope you will participate and share your thoughts and ideas. If you have a suggested topic for questions, etc., please comment below. (Also looking for a co-facilitator to help me with this as well so if you're interested please contact below.)1 commentPosted in: Public Relations | Richmond | Social Marketing