Festival of Trees: Bringing Art and the Holidays Together

A dedicated group of women tackles a tremendous task year after year for a cause they adore. Along the way they have made the Orlando Museum of Art the place to go to kick off the holiday season.

The Council of 101, a volunteer fundraising arm of the museum, hosts the Festival of Trees annually each November.  For nearly three decades, the group has decked the halls of the art museum with lavishly trimmed trees, exquisite gingerbread homes and fanciful holiday wreaths. It is sight to behold!

The hard work of the council – as well as countless number of designers that make the trees and holiday goodies – have raised millions to support the operation of the museum and help the Loch Haven Park cultural center thrive.

The Festival runs through Sunday, November 24. Youngsters can visit Santa, while mom and dad can get inspiration for their holiday decorating.  Better yet, you can buy a tree and have it delivered right to your home!

The Festival got off to a rousing start with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer lighting the signature tree.  See the fun for yourself and know you are doing your part to support the arts in Orlando here: http://youtu.be/OZm9XOsOaaI

For more information about Festival of Trees, please visit: http://www.omart.org/events/festival-trees-glitters


Controlling the message has its limits

A good Public Relations professional knows the media inside and out. They know what stories will soar and which ones will flop. They also know the limitations of their job.

One of those limitations is the ability to control the message once it gets into the hands of the media and the public. This topic has been top of mind this week since the firing of Oakland Raiders’ Public Relations Director Zak Gilbert. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, owner Mark Davis was unhappy with a Sports Illustrated story that was critical of Davis and his late father Al Davis. Gilbert lost his job over it, and the Raiders have been taking some heat for the decision.

The biggest take away from this week’s event is that PR professionals do not have complete control over the conversation surrounding their organization. It’s nearly impossible to know which stories will soar and which will flop. On the same note, once a story gets out we can’t control it. Don’t trust a PR firm that tells you any different. We do our best to build goodwill and broadcast a positive narrative, but we can’t always predict when a journalist or angry customer will decide to voice their opinion.

The best way to avoid or weaken the blow of negative PR is to build a good defense and look at the big picture. First, remember who your fans are. Community and customer goodwill goes a long way and can overpower less-than-desirable coverage. Second, consider the true impact of the story. Bad PR often feels worse than it is, which may have been the case with the Raiders.

(Source: NFL.com)

3 apps to make your life easier

Isn’t it great when you discover something that makes your life infinitely easier? We think so.

Here are three apps that will make you say, “How did I now know about this?!”

1. CardMunch – This iPhone app makes piles of business cards a thing of the past. Snap a picture of the card, and the information will automatically load into a portable Rolodex  The app also finds the individual on Linkedin, helping to grow your virtual network. Android users should checkout Hello by Evernote.

2. Aviary– Want to edit photos, but not ready to publish them on Instagram? Aviary brings creativity to the common photographer with its simple photo editing app for iOS, Android and Windows 8.

3. Google Drive – Google’s online document storage program allows users to edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations from anywhere and on almost every device. Plus, users can collaborate and edit files together through the chat function. Our favorite part – it saves automatically!

Ready to adjust your social media strategy?


Things are a changin’ at Facebook as it appears to adjust in order to meet the demands of younger users and hold onto ad dollars.

Last week, the social media giant announced its first major change to the newsfeed since 2009. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports Facebook is also investigating the use of hashtags as a way to group similar public conversations. It also recently announced an upgrade to its search mechanism.

The newsfeed redesign, which gives users the ability to easily filter their newsfeed to only show specific topics or users, may limit a brands visibility on the social network. Positive changes for marketers include the streamlining of desktop and mobile newsfeeds, and an emphasis on large visuals.

As social media giants battle it out for younger audiences and advertisers, we’ll be interested to see if Facebook can hold onto its title as Social Media King.

Check out these articles for more info:




Happy 10th anniversary, schmidt design studio

This week Schmidt Design Studio celebrates 10 years of amazing design and successful business. Congratulations to our friends, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.



Things that make us cringe

The power of social media paired with today’s instantaneous news cycle can really shine a spotlight on company mishaps.  Here are two of our favorites from last week and how they could have been avoided.

Camera-shy receptionist

A dangerous tree proved to be quite damaging to a St. Louis firm’s public image after a local station picked up the story.

While reporting on a story about a resident who had repeatedly tried to contact Roberts Brothers Properties about the tree, KSDK reporter Mike Rush paid their office a visit.

Rather than buzzing the reporter in and alerting a company representative, the receptionist hid under her desk for half an hour. Not only does this response imply guilt, but it also gives the reporter a much more interesting story. See the video here.

PR Lesson: There are two things business owners can take away from Roberts Brothers Properties mistake. The first is the importance of basic media training for all employees. Receptionists and lower-level employees are usually the first ones contacted by reporter because they tend to know more and say more. Employees should be briefed on media procedures for a variety of situations – good and bad.

Carnival’s PR nightmare

Carnival is no stranger to PR problems with the latest coming from last week’s Triumph fiasco.

The media handling of the nightmare vacation has been widely criticized, but thing that struck us most was the way Carnival CEO Micky Arison handled the incident. Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat, was spotted taking in a game while passengers and crew dealt with less-than-optimal conditions.

PR Lesson: Public Relations is all about perception and marketing experts know the public is more likely to judge an organization on how it handles a problem than how the problem came about.

Business owners should consider how their actions look to customers, especially disgruntled ones. Few will ever experience something as massive as the Triumph, but, in the age of social media, something as simple as blatantly ignoring a line of frustrated customers can damage a brand’s reputation.

(Source: Poynter.orgBostonglobe.com)

Mobile Movement

Ask Americans for the one thing they can’t leave home without, and we’ll bet most of them name a smartphone or tablet.

The popularity of mobile devices isn’t anything new, but a surprising number of entrepreneurs don’t consider how it affects their business. Smartphones and tablets have changed communication in ways that dramatically affect the business world.

With that in mind, it’s vital that business owners consider the mobile implications of any marketing initiative – the most important being a mobile version of your current website.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Average smartphone usage grew 81 percent worldwide in 2012.
  • In 2012, the number of mobile-connected tablets increased 2.5-fold to 36 million, and each tablet generated 2.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone
  • Last year’s mobile data traffic was nearly twelve times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000
  • Mobile network connection speeds more than doubled in 2012, opening the door for easier and more frequent surfing

So, take a critical look at your company website. View it on multiple devices and consider the ease of navigation. For a real perspective, ask someone who has never viewed the site to take a look and share their impressions. You may not like what you hear, but it’s a window into the potential revenue losses that come from a less-than-stellar web presence.

Data from Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast
Photo courtesy of Microsoft

When social media goes horribly wrong

Although this story comes from a source called Gossip Cop, the facts are unfortunately and horrifyingly true. Yesterday, some folks with too much time on their hands and deranged humor started a fake Twitter campaign by posing as Justin Bieber fans and then trending #cut4bieber. The premise of the prank involved circulating photos of self-mutilation with supposed fans urging the Biebs to stop his drug use after a photo leaked last week of the celebrity smoking marijuana.

Overnight, the hashtag started trending worldwide, and tweets flooded in showcasing gruesome and graphic images of bloodied arms and wrists, though it can be hard to tell what is real and what is not.

Although this started as a hoax, the campaign has now taken a life of its own. Encouraging the young and impressionable Belieber followers to self-harm is a disturbing trend that we hope will vanquish as fast as it appeared. Luckily some have spoken out against the Twitter campaign, including the high-profile Miley Cyrus, who stated that “Cutting is NOT something to joke about.”

We wonder if Justin Bieber himself will make a public statement about this horrible chain of events in the Twittersphere.