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Quick Guide to Creating the Right Brand for Your Business (Guest Blog by Gemma Reeves)

The following post comes to us from Gemma Reeves, a freelance writer and entrepreneur. Learn more about Gemma in her bio at the end of the article. Be sure to learn more about her business here.

Quick Guide to Creating the Right Brand for Your Business

gemma guest blog

Any entrepreneur will tell you that establishing and growing your own business is by no means an “easy” career path. Once you have taken the initial steps to build a business model, tasks seem to rain down endlessly in front of you and you may neglect a few important things that greatly matter for your business, like branding.

Whether yours is a small or large business, serving local or international markets, branding is equally important. Creative and effective branding can give your business that edge against your competitors, which is of huge value especially when you are just getting started. Many business owners understand that branding is an essential part of their businesses, but can’t really put into words why.

Before the boom of digital advertising, businesses didn’t have to put as much effort into refining and reinventing their brand as much as they do now. Years ago, branding was simpler. Brands used names, slogans, logo designs, and other symbols that were a fairly obvious reflection of the products and services of the company. Today, these elements are still the basics of branding; however, brands as a whole have become far more sophisticated and less literal. They’re discrete, playful, creative and innovative.

What’s required now for a brand to stand out is it must tell a story, make people feel something and be remembered even when competing against the onslaught of advertisements we’re exposed to every day. In many different ways, a business’s brand drives lasting public perception that can lift you up or cause you to come crashing down.

Spectacular Marketing founder Mark McColluch states that, “You have a brand whether you like it or not. It’s best to embrace that and find the best way to connect your brand with your target audience.” The way your company answers phone calls, addresses customer concerns on social media, and supports the community are all a reflection of your brand.

Having a strong and effective brand is no mistake and its never by chance. Businesses who do this well have a strategy and a team dedicated to implementing this strategy, continuously refining it. More than simply “looking pretty,” the most effective brands achieve the following objectives:

  1. Clearly and consistently communicate the problem your business aims to solve
  2. Reinforce the values and credibility of your business
  3. Elicit the desired emotions from your target audience
  4. Move your target audience to take action (i.e. purchase your products or services)
  5. Make loyal customers
  6. Remain top of mind

Sounds great right? But how do you actually go about accomplishing this? The detailed blueprint to answer that question is far more than what we can summarize in this blog post; however we can offer you some initial and ongoing steps you should take to get started in the right direction. Take a look!

Develop Your Brand Strategy

A consistent and lasting brand is the result of strategy. This may take several months, and ongoing tweaking to reach its stride, but with time and effort you can build a solid branding strategy for your business.

Your strategy should include clear objectives and specific tactics to reach these objectives. It should also include the adjectives and emotions you want to evoke with your brand. How do you want to make your customers feel? What do you want to be known for? These keywords and phrases should drive the focus of your strategy and ultimately the design of your brand.

Research Your Competition

Branding is not just about your company. It’s extremely smart to also study your competitors’ branding strategy. How is the target audience responding to their brand? How does their branding compare to yours? How can you differentiate to stand out? These questions and more should be answered in your research. Most importantly, remember to do everything with integrity and authenticity. Getting dirty with your competitors will foremost reflect poorly on your business.

Be Consistent

Brand consistency is what results in your brand legacy. All too often businesses work to develop a consistent brand in one area of their outreach efforts, but fail to carry it over throughout every area. For example, the branding of your website should match your business cards, email signature, social media, email templates, marketing materials, etc.

Brands that remain consistent throughout time are more likely to gain a stable place in the market and more efficiently use their marketing resources. They don’t waste energy reinventing the wheel every time they roll out a new product or promotion, rather they know to always begin with their existing brand for design inspiration.

The Bottom Line

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. This absolutely applies to the branding of your business. Especially for new and growing businesses that face much competition, your brand can make you memorable, move people to take action and build a loyal customer base. Without a strong and consistent brand, your business will be washed away with each new wave of competition. The most effective way to prevent this from happening is to prioritize creating and implementing a branding strategy right from the start. In doing so, this early investment in your business will reap huge dividends months and years down the road!

Does your business prioritize its branding? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and expertise by commenting below!

gemma reevesGemma Reeves is a seasoned writer who enjoys creating helpful articles and interesting stories. She has worked with several clients across different industries such as advertising, online marketing, technology, healthcare, family matters, and more. She is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is engaged in assisting other aspiring entrepreneurs in finding the best office space for their business. Check out her company here: FindMyWorkspace

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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Business & Success, Life


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Why Didn’t My Press Release Get Picked Up?

Upset disappointed young businessman sitting with hands on head

Whether we PR professionals want to come to terms with it or not, the media is not our mouthpiece that will print exactly what we want, when we want it. They are the ultimate gatekeepers who determine the extent of media exposure that will be granted to us or our clients. The sheer volume of press releases that cross their desk each and every day ensures that only a fraction will receive review, and an even fewer number will be published in some capacity.

But don’t despair! Rarely is an ignored press release a direct reflection on your business or your media relations skills. Rather it could be any number of possible circumstances. Take a look:

It wasn’t really news.

The hard truth is that you’re likely to think everything your organization does is newsworthy because, well, it involves you. It can sometimes require taking a step back and role playing a reporter to determine whether or not something is worthy of media attention. Just because it’s not a good fit for the media, doesn’t mean you can’t promote it in other ways. Utilize your website, blog, social media, and newsletter to tell your story.

It was overly promotional.

Be sure to learn the best practices of writing a press release. Your headline can make or break your chances of getting picked-up. If you start off overly promotional, with a heavy focus on your business or brand, this is a huge red flag to a reporter that this isn’t a helpful “news hint,” it’s a PR tactic. As much as a client may want to see their name in the title, explain to them that this isn’t the best media-bait.

You’ve used this angle, again and again.

Is your strategy to, every month, announce the new businesses to whom you’ve sold services or goods? The first time you do this is the best chance you’ll have at gaining media attention. Every press release after that is beating a dead horse, in the eyes of the media. Reserve this angle for a truly noteworthy client, or present your new client information in a unique way. It’s easy for the media to spot a template press release which will quickly get you tossed in the “no” file.

It got stuck in spam.

There are major benefits to using an email platform like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to send out your press releases. However, they can increase your chances of getting you sent to a spam folder. I’ve had my own clients’ emails skip my inbox and head straight for the spam folder, even after I marked previous messages from the same sender as “not spam.” The bottom line is to track your analytics, as these email platforms allow you to do. If it seems like a low percentage of contacts are opening your email, it may be due to their spam filters.

It was poorly written.

Another hard truth is that your press release may been poorly written to a point that your media contacts couldn’t see the value in the information you were sharing. I again reference the best practices of press releases to ensure you have the greatest advantage of getting picked up. You need to write to the media’s preference, not your own. Learn to embrace AP style!

You relied solely on a “Wire” for distribution.

You are likely familiar with PR wire services such as PRWeb, PR Newswire, and Business Wire. I have yet to have a client truly benefit from any pick-ups received from such services. I believe the value lies in personal contact, not some syndication service. Even if you’re hitting a list of several hundred media contacts, you are far more able to personalize your messaging and track their engagement from traditional email. Don’t waste your time or money!

You gave up too soon.

Finally, and most importantly, you may have just given up too soon. I have yet to receive a single complaint from a member of the media for sending out the same press release twice, each with a unique headline. Sometimes you hit them on a busy news day when they just don’t have the capacity to cover your story. A few days later might be the perfect timing for when they need a story like yours. Try and try and again – but two times is the perfect number. Anything more than that could work against you.

Most importantly, don’t drive yourself crazy over-analyzing the reasons your press release may have been overlooked – and don’t stop trying! Tomorrow is another news day.

Can you empathize with this experience? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment.



Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Business & Success, Life


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Our Perfectly Imperfect Wedding

Just a little over one year ago I wrote an article entitled, “When You Don’t Plan Everything, Everything Goes As Planned.” I regarded this as one of the most insightful thoughts I had stumbled upon in a long time. It was a great turning point for a self-proclaimed perfectionist and I felt a release from all the pressure trying to control everything this brought about. But in the months since that post, I experienced some big (and wonderful) life changes that really put this mindset to the test. A monumental event like a wedding is something you HAVE to plan for. And there’s an entire industry of vendors who are supported by this very fact. But today I don’t want to share with you the 7 months of planning and prepping that led up to my wedding day, instead I want to share with you the even more important fact that over half a year of planning in no way means everything – or anything – will go as planned.

When It Rains…It POURS.

From the moment we decided on an outdoor venue, I knew there would always be one aspect of the wedding I couldn’t plan – the weather. Back in January, what more could we do than check the Farmer’s Almanac and naively say, “Oh how could it be that bad?” We had countless sunny days throughout spring and early summer until we hit late July. The thunderstorms would hit every afternoon but blow over relatively fast. Still we were optimistic. Whether it was a circling tropical storm or the most comically bad luck, August 4th produced some of the heaviest rainfall we had in a long time. From 11am until 2:30pm the rain flooded the streets and came down in every direction imaginable. Our entire event crew was left scrambling on the farm (our outdoor wedding venue) trying to batten the hatches and save what they could of the items that had already been setup.

It was bad, but the day was young. I still had faith it would blow over and all would be fine for our 5pm ceremony….

The rain continued with a second storm hitting around 2pm. There was too much mud to even get down the driveway of the farm. Scott and I had planned all of our photos before the wedding and I was to meet him in the grove for our “First Look.” There he stood in the pouring raining, waiting almost an hour for me to arrive. Separated from each other all day, we were both nervous, uncertain about the weather and sad for how the other must be feeling right now. I wanted nothing more than to see him and know that everything was going to be okay. This may not have been the wedding we planned, but it was our wedding to make the best of.

Finally the rain went from pouring to drizzling and with the help of my family and multiple umbrellas, I made my way to Scott. With a complete disregard for the cameras and film crew around us, Scott and I fell into an embrace and sobbed into each others’ arms with the relief that we had each other – and nothing, not even rain, could stop us from getting married today. Looking at our “First Look” photos now, they are some of the most genuine snapshots of love and happiness. Had the emotions of the day been any lighter, I know we wouldn’t have such vivid memories from that very special moment.

Wedding First Look

The Outdoor Wedding That Almost Wasn’t.

With the ocean’s worth of rain that had just fallen down and yet another storm on the radar, our wedding planner said that everything would have to be moved under the tent. Our ceremony, our cocktail hour, even our dancing that was supposed to be under the stars would all be shoved under a tent only big enough for our dinner tables. At that point my plans for the day had already been shattered and my emotions shot so what more could be shocking at this point?

The bridal party left the farm to stay hidden from guests and to freshen up. Returning to the farm right before the ceremony, the skies had lightened and our guests were being seated in the chairs outside – we were having an outdoor wedding after all! I saw so many familiar faces of friends and loved ones, who despite the mud and the earlier rain, were thrilled to be there and to see us get married. My heart had never felt fuller.

wedding ceremony

A Dry Wedding?

Given the day’s earlier events, nothing about our wedding should have been dry. But then again nothing about our wedding seemed to be predictable whatsoever. Our event planner told us that the quantities of beer and wine we thought we delivered weren’t all accounted for. We were short 5 cases! It was only cocktail hour and already we were running out. We still have no idea where the alcohol accounting went awry, but at that time we just knew we had to fix it fast. The event crew ran out for us and purchased what we needed. The rest of the night, finding a dry cup was about as rare as finding a dry eye. We have enough leftover to throw a pretty nice New Year’s Eve Party too!

First Dance Follies.

Partly for our wedding and partly for a fun hobby, Scott and I took dance lessons a few months back. We learned all the steps to the basic dances that would help us to look just a bit more polished on our big day. As most weddings do, the bridal party is announced before the bride and groom go into their first dance. Scott and I decided to get a little creative and he picked me up to carry me into the tent. Before the lift, he stepped on the train of my dress which had been bustled to tuck up neatly out of my way and he ripped the bustle right out! No, this doesn’t mean any extra skin was showing and thank goodness the only thing that ripped was the small stitch keeping the bustle pinned up, but the train swung loose through our entire dance. At first this wasn’t too bad, but with every turn or dip, the train would get caught under one of our feet – producing a really awkward step-hop sort of first dance routine. Again…not at all what we had planned!

With this all occurring before dinner, we had at least another 5 hours of celebration before us. As much as we could have been focusing on what else would go wrong on our wedding day, we were instead living in the moment and enjoying the first party we hosted as Mr. and Mrs.

wedding dress train first dance

Holding the train throughout our first dance

Our Dream Wedding: Act II.

With every passing hour, the skies lightened and there wasn’t another single drop of rain. We actually had quite a few guests tell us how lucky we were to have the weather we did. All they knew was that the day’s rain had made for a pleasant and cool evening. It seemed the rest of our wedding was going to be carefree and enjoyable, but I still couldn’t come to terms with the fact that our guests would never experience the outdoor lounge area and dance floor under the stars that had been my most exciting part of the reception design.

Off in the distant grove area, I started to see the event crew move a few cocktail tables, then a bar, then the couches came out – it looked like a glowing after-party just beckoning you to join in. Scott and I were able to see the finished area before any of the guests came over from the tent. It was spectacular! There were chandeliers in the trees, blue lights illuminating the trunks and 2 lounge areas that created a fun and festive atmosphere completely separate from the rest of the traditional touches of our wedding. As guests curiously made their way from the tent, Scott and I enjoyed a (second) first dance all our own. My broken bustle had been repined and nothing stood in our way from taking in this perfectly imperfect moment….no rain, no stress, no disasters….just us.

grove ceremony reception area

While this may not have been the wedding I planned for, it was absolutely the wedding I always wanted and it wouldn’t have been possible without our talented (and tireless) wedding vendors:

…and of course of loving and supportive family and friends!


Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Life


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